Build a Presentation like a Pro: How to Draft your Storyline using Pen and Paper | Karin Frei | Skillshare

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Build a Presentation like a Pro: How to Draft your Storyline using Pen and Paper

teacher avatar Karin Frei, Ready to take control?

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (36m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class outline & Case study

    • 3. Class project

    • 4. Understand the context

    • 5. Structure the storyline

    • 6. Convey one key messages per slide

    • 7. Shape the content

    • 8. Add an executive summary and review

    • 9. Bonus case study

    • 10. Final thoughts

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About This Class

Learn a smart way to draft a storyline for your presentation in 5 steps with only a pen and piece of paper (effective and efficient)

Aren’t we constantly preparing presentations to share our ideas, business plans, financial results? Whether that is with powerpoint or another software tool?

In my professional career I’ve encountered many colleagues struggling to put a storyline for a presentation together, which led to them spending valuable time and energy on it and in some cases even preventing them from getting promoted.

The good news is, that this is a skill that can be learned. And I know from experience that it can be simple, fun, and help us be more effective and efficient in our job.

In this class we will learn how to draft a storyline for a presentation by following a 5-step process that has proven to be very impactful for me.

  • Understand the context
  • Structure the storyline
  • Convey one key message per slide
  • Shape the content
  • Add an executive summary and review

The secret is to do all of the thinking upfront and work only with a pen and piece of paper. This allows us to iterate easily and not waist time trying to design draft versions in powerpoint.

This class is for any person, whether earlier or later in their career, keen on becoming better and faster in preparing presentations. My goal is for you to experience how enjoyable the process can be and get you more comfortable in doing so yourself.


Meet Your Teacher

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Karin Frei

Ready to take control?


Are you an ambitious professional keen to accelerate your career and add more value to your company Looking to learn the key skills required to become more effective and efficient at what you do or get ready for your next step? Then this channel is for you.

In these classes I will share with you the key tools that got me to Executive Level roles at a young age without compromising my personal life. I benefited from a fantastic training at a highly renowned University, MBA school, and a top tier Strategy Consulting firm. But many of the key skills I refined or acquired later on when taking on more responsibility in my roles, leading teams, becoming a working parent, and now starting my own business.

I'm excited about helping individuals like yourself unlock t... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Aren't we constantly preparing presentations to share our ideas, business plans, financial results, you name it. But there That's a PowerPoint or any other software tools. In my professional career, I've encountered many colleagues struggling to put a storyline for a presentation together, which led to them spending valuable time and energy on it. And in some cases, even preventing them from getting promoted. Good news is that this is a skill that can be learned. And I know from experience that they can be simple, fun, and help you be more effective and efficient in your job. In this class, we will learn how to draft a storyline for a presentation by following a five-step process that has proven to be very impactful for me. Throughout the class, we will be preparing a fictitious business presentation to show the steps in practice. The secret is to do all of the thinking upfront and work only with a pen and piece of paper. That provides us with enormous flexibility without wasting time trying to illustrate draft versions in PowerPoint. In this course, we will therefore not learn how to use a specific software tool. This class is for any person, whether earlier or later in their carrier, keyed on becoming better and faster in preparing presentations. My goal is for you to experience how enjoyable the process can be and get you more comfortable in doing so yourself. My name is Karen side and I've worked in strategy consulting and held several executive level roles. I'm a curious, ambitious, positive person, and very importantly, I value my personal time a lot. I have learned some valuable skills along the way and I'm excited to have the opportunity to share some of those with you. 2. Class outline & Case study: In this class, we will learn how to draft the storyline for a presentation by following these five steps. Understand the context, structure, the storyline. Convey one key message per slide. Fill in the content at an executive summary and pause to review to iterate easily. We will work with only a pen and piece of paper. This allows us to focus on the thinking rather than the designing in a software tool. For illustrative purposes throughout this course. I will also choose a business question that our executive committee wants us to address. Should we launch our pharmaceutical drug in the Nordic countries? It may sound frightening if you haven't dealt with this type of questions before. And the goal is not to learn about the pharmaceutical industry or a specific country. The purpose is to show the five-step process in practice, which we can follow to develop a presentation for any type of business question. 3. Class project: A good way to learn a new skill is to practice it. For this course is case study. I asked you to think about a business question that interests you for which you will develop a presentation. Example, how is your business performing this year versus previous years? Or how is he performing versus your competitors? After each chapter, you will then be able to apply and practice the technique learn. In that perspective chapter. 4. Understand the context: As a first step, we want to ensure that we have they're relevant contexts for the presentation. Are we clear about what we're expected to cover? If we're not, then we have the opportunity to go back and ask the right person what they would like or need to see. It can also be helpful to break the business question down into sub-questions that we plan to address. For our business question, whether we should launch our pharmaceutical drug in the Nordic countries. We could, for example, focus on the following three sub-questions. How big is the business opportunity? How can we enter the market? What resources do we need? Do we know who our audience is and what we need from them? What info do they already have versus what in full or they still seeking. For our Nordic business question, our audiences executive committee will once a recommendation of what markets to enter next. While we want the green light to launch in the Nordic countries, we have learned from recent discussions with them that they are primarily interested in understanding how much incremental sales in US dollars we could achieve within the next five years. This insight can guide what we focus on in our presentation. How much time do we have for the presentation? In my experience, it's important one to limit the number of slides to maximum one every two minutes and seconds to reserve enough time for discussions. Let's say for the Nordics business question, we get a 30 minute time slot at the next Executive Committee meeting. Then we should aim to present for 20 minutes and reserved 10 minutes for questions at the end. For the 20 minutes, we should try to have between five and 10 slides max. Is there a corporate design, corporate template that we should use? Or Easter, maybe even a structure that the company wants us to follow. It's very common, especially for me to large size companies, to have clear guidelines. Example for our Nordics business question, we know that there is a corporate design and a standard executive summary that the organization wants all presenters to humans or follow. The style of the presentation and the amount of information or images used can vary significantly depending on the type of presentation. For our Nordics business questions, for instance, we want to include sufficient information on the slides so that the executive committee can read through it ahead of the meeting. 5. Structure the storyline: I get asked a lot. When do you start thinking about your storyline? To be efficient, I like to start drafting a storyline fairly early in the process. But at the same time, it's important to have a certain level of background knowledge. Let me illustrate it on our business question. Whether we should launch our pharmaceutical drug in the Nordics. We would need to know enough about the particularities of the Nordic countries in order to make a recommendation that can either be knowledge that we've acquired from working in the Nordic countries previously, from expert interviews, desk research. And we might even need to do some financial modelling first. Once we feel that we know enough, but not everything to make a recommendation, we can start the drafting process. So let me take a piece of paper and draw a grid on it. Each of these boxes will represent one slide and ideally with one key message per slide. So I'll reserve the first section for the executive summary and then I start to think about my storyline. So what's the key information that this audience needs to have in order to take a decision whether we should launch in the Nordics or not. So I would like them to have a general overview of the market. So let's put a reminder for ourselves, market overview. I want to show them what the different pathways are that we have in order to launch. Maybe the size of our opportunity. So the business opportunity, first in terms of number of patients and second in terms of US dollars. Of course, this is based on a lot of assumptions. So what I like to do is also add some scenarios. Maybe something around the resources needed in order to launch successfully or to follow this pathway. And the key next steps. To keep the presentation short and simple, only add information upfront, which is core to answer the business question, any supporting information or underlying analysis can be added to the backup. Like that. We don't deviate from the main messages. And still, if someone's should want that information, it is available to them within the same document. On the example of aeronautics business question as the competitor only has very few patients on treatment currently, we might decide that that detailed assessment of the competitor doesn't need to go in the section upfront. And since the executive committee is mainly keen on the sales numbers, we could decide to add the cost of profitability analysis to that backup. 6. Convey one key messages per slide: Each slide should deliver one key message. And it's very powerful if the takeaway message of the slide, the so-what is already reflected in the title. This is what is often also referred to as an action type. If written effectively than the audience can understand the primary message only by reading the title and doesn't have to go through the rest of the slide. I tried to keep the titles are specific and short as possible and limit them to one to 1.5 lines. Let me give you a couple of examples of a title that isn't an action title yet and how we could rephrase it. In this first example, we see a graph that shows yearly sales in million US dollars. If we look at it a bit more closely, we can see that we're comparing product a, which is the green line, versus the market, which is the black line. In addition, we can go through the highlights on the right. We see that the market grew by 30 percent in 2020 and 20 percent in 2021. And we also learned a product a, outperformed the market by 40 percent in the last two years, mainly due to the launch of a new version of the product. It would definitely help to add a title. If we choose a generic title, the title would be financial performance. But still, if we're to audience, we don't immediately understand from this title uncharged what the most relevant information for us is. That's where an action title can be helpful. Product a outperformed the market by 40 percent in 2020 and 2021. And if we wanna go that extra mile, we can even add a few additional notes on the slide to make that come across very clearly. In this example, we show the product rating done by customers were number 1 is the lowest satisfaction rate and number 5 the highest satisfaction rate. We can also see that the green color represents product a and the two gray colors represent competitor B and C respectively. On the right-hand side, there are some complimentary customer quotes. As the audience, we have to go through a large part of the slide until we understand what it's about. We're looking at the differentiating factors of product a. It will take us more time to understand what the key message of discharge is. So adding an action title would be helpful. Quality and design of product a or highly rated by customers. If we want to go the extra mile to make the key information pulp, we can add a red line around quality and design, showing that those are the top two ratings for product a. Do you see how much more impact such a title can have? The next step is to translate the overall themes that we want to cover into action titles. So let's say my first message that I want to convey is that there are ex, patients across the Nordic countries which are seeking predicament. And they're currently being managed in only five centers. So five hospitals for each of the countries. I know that there are different pathways. And my recommendation would be, for example, to launch in Sweden and Norway via a accelerated route or pathway. And in Denmark and Finland via the classical world. The business opportunity. What would be valuable to share here is how many patients we could treat with our product within the first five years. And they expect that revenue for those five years is x million. There is a potential upside to those X million US dollars. If we manage to launch even earlier. In terms of resources, we recommend them to, to setup a slim tube that report into the head of Europe. And the most important next step is start hiring as soon as possible. So this is one example of how I could create a storyline with action titles. We can now delete the nodes we made in Chapter 2. Once we have more experience with developing story lines, we can choose to work with action titles directly and skip the step that we focused on in Chapter 2. All of what we've done so far on paper can of course be done directly in PowerPoint. But doing it on paper helps us iterate more easily. And the, the ensures that we don't want to waste valuable time and energy. Figuring out the software tool and trying to make draft slides look pretty. 7. Shape the content: We can now start to think about how to best visualize the content for each of the slides. For this purpose, I want to help you get some malaria with some of the, in my opinion, most useful charts for business presentations. The pie chart is a great way to show individual pieces and how together they make up the whole pie. I will consider using a pie chart to show how much of the company's sales come from product a. The pie represents the total company's sales in a given year, in this case, 2021. And the dark green section represents the sales coming from product a. A line chart shows continuous data over a period of time on an evenly scaled access. So they're ideal for showing trends in data at equal intervals like years, quarters, or months. I would consider using a line chart to show how my product a is performing over time and how my product a is performing versus the market. On the chart, you see clearly that the gray line illustrates the market sales over the last five years. While the green light represents, represents the sales from product a over the same period of time. A column chart typically displays categories and the value for each of those categories. I like using a clustered column chart when comparing different products or competitors. So for example, when I want to show the results of a customer satisfaction survey, on the y-axis, you see the different categories, but the customers ray that our products on, like quality design praise. And you can see the results on a scale of one to five on the horizontal axis, like with it on the previous slides as well. Product a is marked in green while the competitors have a grayish color. And other type of column chart is stacked column chart, which is helpful to break the data down into sub-pieces. I would consider using a stacked column chart to show the breakdown of my product sales by region. For example. On this chart, you can see the evolution of our, of our product sales over the last five years and the breakdown between the regions, north America, Europe, and rest of world. Last but not least, I want to introduce you to the waterfall chart, which visualizes a starting point and a set of events that then lead to an end point. Let me explain this better on an example. I want to show what's going to drive the future growth of our product a. So we have the starting point on the very left of the sales that we have in 2021. And on the very right, you see the sales that we will land on in 2022 or that we expect to land on in 2022. In the middle, you have two green and two red boxes, which represent the events that will happen or that we expect to happen throughout the year that have an impact on their sales growth. We have plans to expand into the rest of world. We have a new product release coming up, which both have a positive impact on our sales growth while we're facing more competition and need to decrease our prices. What is the best format or chart to illustrate my key message? So let's say for the action title that we have ex-patients managed in only five centers. Maybe the best way of showing it is showing a map with the five key centers on it. And the name of the center, maybe even the name of the most important doctor there, and the number of patients that we believe are treated in that center. When we are speaking about the different pathways and our recommended approach. One way of illustrating it. Could be to have the four country maps and share with the audience what the different pathways are for each of those countries. And give them the rationale for our recommendation. To show the potential patient numbers and assumed uptake. A way of illustrating it could be the following. Where we show how many patients we believe we can have in year 22, in year 23, 24, 25, and 26. So the next five years. And a section or a explanation of what our key assumptions are. To get to this conclusion, it's very important to really only include the key assumptions. Otherwise, we will fill up the whole page. The backup, again is a very good place to add all of the assumptions. The expected revenue for those five years. I could show in exactly the same format as we did on the previous page. But instead of patient numbers, we have US dollar. And again, show what our key assumptions are. And maybe here we decide to only add the new key assumptions. So the ones that are different or in addition to the previous one. So let's say we have an expected revenue of 20 million US dollars in the first five years combined, which is our baseline. So this is our baseline. We can then explain tour three different scenarios. So we explain what those scenarios are. Let's take Scenario 1. We launch earlier than expected in Sweden, and then we might be able to have an upside of another 20 million US dollars. So not 20 million, but 22 million. If we have a delayed launch that maybe we have a downside of 4 million during that same period of time and so on. There are resources needed. I might want to show with the classical org chart. So I could show that GM Germany reporting into the EU and then add the new team that I would propose. So let's say a Nordics GM and Nordics medical had a Nordics commercial head, etc. And maybe I even mark which roles are new. So what are my additional resource requests? And a couple of bullet points explaining what my next steps will be. Doing this at this early stage is very valuable because it helps us later on collect and summarize the information or prepare the data that we need. Already in this format that we aspire to have. 8. Add an executive summary and review: Once the storyline stands, we can add an executive summary. The executive summary is a one-pager that summarizes the most relevant information. In the Nordics business question, there is a standard executive summary that the company or organization, once all presenters to follow. But it's also very similar to other executive summaries that I've seen in the past. So we want to have a section where we share with the audience what are asked from them is, so at the end of this presentation, we would like to know if we can go ahead with the proposed strategy and launch in the Nordics. Our recommendation is, and we add that here. This is our rationale. And again, we add a couple of bullet points that we think are the most relevant ones. And to round up that discussion, maybe what we'll add is the most important next steps. I want to particularly highlight this last part on next steps or open questions. I found it very helpful to include that at the end of the presentation and sometimes even in the executive summary because he did acknowledge that not everything has been learned or covered yet. And it also shows that we've identified what we want or need to focus on next. Last but not least, we review what we have drafted so far. I would recommend to take a break before doing so and tried to look at it from the perspective of a person that is not familiar with the content, would he or she be able to follow? One of the elements that I pay a lot of attention to when reviewing are the titles too, they tell the complete story, or are we missing an important piece? Are the titles crisp and clear? Where can we rephrase them to be even more effective? And other element that we should always review carefully, or the number of students across the presentation in the titles charged and text fields, especially before distributing or presenting the slides. Do they all add up? Only? Now, we opened the actual software tool to create the presentation digitally. In PowerPoint, for example. Once we have this first version of our presentation, we can discuss it with our colleagues, example appear boss or even an executive committee member, and weaker reactions, we can continue to refine the presentation further. We might learn that a different order of the slides will be easier to follow or that the crucial aspect of the analysis is missing. Or did something that we've included in the storyline can actually be moved to the backup because it isn't as critical as we thought it was. Okay. 9. Bonus case study: I thought they could be helpful to add a bonus case study to illustrate the process of drafting a storyline for a presentation on a topic that we're all familiar with apps are today. How to draft a storyline for your presentation. As a first step, we want to ensure we understand the context for the presentation. Questions to think through. Are, are we clear on what we're trying to present? Will our audience is, how much time we have, what parameters we should follow. We want to teach a very simple process on how to draft a storyline. Our audience or professionals will have realized that they have spent a lot of time building presentations and are keen on becoming more effective and efficient. In doing so. We want to keep the session short and to the point and aim to present for no more than 20 to 30 minutes and leave students enough time to practice. We want to upload the class to Skillshare that inspires us to create a standalone introduction video and should include a class project for the students to complete. This is an example of how to start understanding your context. We can, and in most cases probably must go a bit deeper than what we've just done. So snow that the longer we've been working in a particular context, the more aware we already are of it, the less effort this step requires. As a second step, we start to structure the storylines by thinking through the big themes that we want to cover. We take a piece of paper and draw a grid on it. Each of the sections represents one slide and we reserve the first one for the executive summary. We would first like to introduce the overall approach. Then we need to understand the context. Then we'll go through the process of structuring the key themes. They wanna make sure that each slide conveys one key message. Once we have the titles, the next part that we need is the content. And then we want to ensure that we leave sufficient time to review them. They also recommend to add a backup section for all the elements which are nice to have. So let's say we include a tutorial on how to translate this into PowerPoint or some guidance for Skillshare. Thirdly, we will create a title for each slide that delivers that one key message of that slide. We want to keep the title short but clear. Our key message on the overall approach is that we have a way to learn how to draft a storyline, which is very simple. We want to understand the context. Before drafting. We will then structure, depict themes like we did before. We want to make sure that we convey one key message per slide. Then we go into the planning phase of how to visualize the content. We review the story line. Maybe we do that on how it flows, but also how clear it is. As a fourth step, we decide how to best visualize the content for each of the slides. What's the best format or chart to convey the messages? On the overall approach, I would like to introduce the five-step process, 2, 3, 4, 5 with a description of them, maybe some notes of how we do it by hand. As a next step, we can add the different dimensions that we looked at when we talk about the context, the business question, audience, the timing, and the template, we add a couple of bullet points on what we will pay attention to for this class that we're drafting. Here. I would actually like to show them a visual of this page, how it looked a few steps ago, which was just with the big themes up here. And with a couple of bullet points to explain what we've done. Also here, I would like to add an image, but with the titles that we've chosen. And again, a couple of bullet points with the explanation and on how we'll visualize the content. We will again add an image of this. But now with all of the content in it, we want to review our storyline. So I want to explain what the parameters are that we're looking for. Last but not least, as a fifth step, we add an executive summary and review the presentation. One important element is the goal of the session. We'll learn a simple way to draft a storyline. What are needs that we're constantly preparing presentations and need to become better at doing so. Our offering is a very simple five-step process where we do all of the thinking upfront and work only with a pen and piece of paper. And the next step, for example, can be to learn how to develop or translate this afterwards into PowerPoint. As we've just experienced by doing all of the thinking up front, we can very quickly developed a strong storyline. Only once we have our storyline on paper, I would recommend to open a software tools such as PowerPoint to create the presentation Vinci Code. 10. Final thoughts: In this class, we have learned how to draft a storyline for a presentation. By following a five-step process. We prepared a fictitious business presentation to show the steps in practice. And we use only a pen and piece of paper to be as efficient and effective as possible. Thank you for completing this course. I look forward to reading some of your case studies and hope you continue to practice the skills learned in your day-to-day job, please let me know if you thought this course was helpful by liking it, following me, or sharing it with your friends. Also, don't hesitate to give me feedback in the comments section below on what you would like to see more of going forward.