I focus on presentation training as this is the best way to teach you the essential skills to being independently successful in your pitches and meetings.
Another part of what I do is to create presentations for people - this is an entirely different process and also very rewarding as I consult on the structure, message and ways to visualize what you are promoting and so help you generate value.
I have made presentations for leaders at Daimler, VW, Dulwich International College and Hollywood film producers, all people who were at the early stages of pitching clear messages and building great projects.
So all this to say if I could design a presentation for anyone it would be for Elon Musk, with former President Barack Obama and businessman extraordinaire Richard Branson close behind.
I admit I'm not an expert on Elon Musk - I've listened to a podcast interview, read a chapter profile and watched a YouTube Bloomberg documentary but already I think his vision for how and why we do things is fantastic. I think his achievements are massively awe-inspiring especially seeing as Tesla has recently surpassed GM as Americas most valuable car company.
So if I were to design a presentation for Elon Musk, I would start off by asking him these three questions.
Three discovery questions
#1 Who is his audience?
#2 Why is he engaging them?
#3 What is his goal?
These kick-off questions help me establish the big picture and define all the things we need to discover to make an engaging presentation.
As I listen to his answers to these three discovery questions, I would be making sketch notes on my iPad, plus recording the sessions audio on my iPhone.
I would then ask which are the emotions we need to convey. This question helps us figure out which motivational triggers to highlight and visualize.
I would ask what the most important point of his message for the audience is - what is the point that sparks all the potential, needs and risk?
I would then finish up with asking what is the audience's worldview, what are their priorities, do they think with their head or their heart? Are they senior academics and legislators or are they, potential investors or partners?
See themselves in the solution
With all these discovery questions we are thinking about what makes the audience tick - what is the insight that hooks them in, how can we relate to them quickly and how do they see themselves in the solution?
With all Elon’s insights about audience triggers combined with the desired emotions and a clear goal for the presentation, I can then write a story outline, start a visual mood board on Pinterest and sketch out some initial three beat mountains and early ideas.
I would then set up a check-in meeting where I would pitch Elon the first draft presentation and support this meeting with multiple visual formats:
- A bullet point script
- Some three beat mountain structure options
- A visual mood board of references
- A slide wireframe as a contact sheet
- And an overview of the goals
This way in the first follow-up, after discovering the projects needs I can pitch a clear draft #1 and have the organized material ready to advance the conversation.
Working in this way, there is intentionally lots of room for Elon to see his idea structured in a clear visual way and understand how it is achieving his goals. I would maybe remind him that the imagery is still to be developed, but now it's crucial we are only looking at the content in the wireframe - we know pictures are needed and now we are structurally positioning them as the story develops.
After gathering all the inputs, questions and suggestions discussed I would then track the comments into an action list and then develop draft #2 of the presentation where we would design the slides with a standout look and feel. I would propose a range of design samples and options - as well as developing the presentation script in draft #2.
After confirming the draft #2 development the final phase would be to approve and lock in the slide design, each image and visual would have a selection of options per slide, so Elon is editing down and not having to come up with suggestions. As the final deck comes together and we fine tune the story beats and transitions slide by slide, I would need about an hour with Elon as we rehearse and walk through the slides making sure he has a super clear mental map of the material so he can present naturally.
Now along with a Word Doc version of the script, presenter notes, contact sheet and final PPT with a PDF Elon would be ready to go and nail his presentation.
The great thing about this process is there is a super clear roadmap in the 8 Steps to Showtime and Elon wouldn’t have to spend hours in meetings, it all starts with 20-30 minutes focused time at the discovery stage followed by scheduled 5-10 minute check-ins via Wechat and a final hour-long walk through and handover.
Efficient use of Elon's time
Elon would benefit by having a well-structured presentation which he is clear on because he was engaged in a three-step process which didn’t cost much time and created great results.
He can reuse this presentation in the future and independently fine-tune it to the audience in front of him on a case by case basis as he knows how the structure clicks together.
He can also share this presentation with senior team members who can now simultaneously start to share the same vision and idea he has consistently with no risk and so everyone stays on target.
Also, the final master document can be tweaked and then re-exported as a new presentation, expertly tuned to the audience in front of Elon and Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX.
This would be a great project to work on as I think Elon’s vision for the world are the ones we need right now and I would like to help amplify his vision.
Having an excellent well structured, visual and shareable presentation is a great tool to have in any business which is doing inspiring things.
Thank you for your time - I appreciate you reading this far and if you have any questions about presentations, please leave a comment or email me.