Recently one of my colleagues, who comes from a technology background, was asked to work on a deck (PowerPoint Document, in consulting lingo) for some senior stakeholders on the client side. Although he is well versed in Information Technology and has extensive expertise in the area, he is relatively new to Management Consulting. As a result, he has had relatively little exposure in working with PowerPoint, or any documents meant to communicate ideas.
I was put in the fortunate position of his PowerPoint advisor, tasked broadly with guiding his brush strokes as he painted the deck. But increasingly, I noticed that instead of teaching him to create effective documents, I was simply telling him what needed to be done on each slide – and the results were often less than par. Unfortunately for him, he was receiving similar “coaching” from others, never truly learning how to create powerful and effective decks.
So we ended up in a frustrating loop where he would create something, I would tell him what to change, he would make the changes, the I would tell him what to change further, and he would make the appropriate changes (annoying just to read that sentence, imagine living it day after day). After about two weeks of this, I thought about the famous saying “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime” and decided to change my approach.
No one is born a master deck painter, and there is always room for improvement. I recall when I was an analyst I struggled with many of the same issues and reflected on what had I changed. So today I sent my colleague a lengthy email explaining what I have dubbed “The Art of Deck Creation”, summarized for your reading pleasure below. By the way, the graphic below was created in PowerPoint.