Create Rad Content
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Create a great presentation outline.
- Write a compelling story.
- Use a show flow to plan your presentation.
- Create an impactful presentation deck.
Great news! Nyah and Lek’s presentation on Lightning Components development has been accepted for a 40-minute breakout session at Dreamforce. After toasting each other with chai latte over a web conference, Lek and Nyah start fleshing out their presentation.
Creating a good outline is a vital step in producing a compelling presentation, because your outline will form the skeleton of your slide deck.
Nyah and Lek pull out the audience definition, learning objectives, and abstract that they outlined in unit 1. They then build an outline of topics that help answer their learning objectives, adding a few standard sections that should be included in any presentation.
- About Us—briefly establishing Nyah and Lek’s experience developing Lightning Components
- Agenda—introducing the topics that will be covered in the presentation, including why Lek and Nyah are excited to talk about it
- Conclusion—summarizing the key takeaways from the presentation
- Q&A—providing a time where attendees can ask questions
While Nyah and Lek are pretty happy with their outline, before they finalize anything, they share the outline with some people they trust and get some great (and honest) feedback. Here’s their final outline.
- About Us
What are Lightning Components?
- One sentence overview
- About the Lightning Component framework
- Lightning Components and existing technologies (e.g., Visualforce)
Why Developers should love Lightning Components
- Show 2-3 examples of Lightning Components
- List why we love Lightning Components
Building Lightning Components
- Before you get started
- Development Tips
- Testing Tips
- Deployment Tips
They know they’ll likely need to cut some material, but this is a good start.
We’ve all seen presentations that stick with us. It’s not always just about the content, but also about how the presentation is told. This is because, as humans, we are wired to emotionally connect through storytelling. Storytelling helps us embrace new behaviors—which, after all, is the entire point of presenting to a group.
So how do you figure out what is the right story to tell?
One of the easiest ways to answer that question is to make it personal. Think about why you wanted to present on this topic in the first place.
- The Triumphant Story (A)—Did you struggle with aspects of this topic? Did these struggles result in lessons learned that you’re now super excited to share?
- The Oracle's Story (B)—Are you an expert in this topic? Have you been asked the same questions over and over, and you know that there are people out there clamoring for a summary of these answers?
- The Transformative Story (C)—Has this topic changed your life (really, we mean this) and you want to inspire others?
Identifying where you feel the strongest emotions is a great way to find your story.
“It doesn’t matter if you are talking about Apex dependency injection or a perfect apple pie recipe. The way you build up your story is critical to engage your audience. It’s all about empathy. Instead of telling your story in a classic linear timeline (intro, body, ending) try to develop it by starting with the end and tell how things evolved up to there.”—Aldo Fernandez (Litify, Aldoforce.com)
For our fearless presenters, theirs was a struggle to learn something new, and by facing many small obstacles, they ultimately overcame adversity and achieved their goal of becoming rock star Lightning Components developers. In other words, Nyah and Lek have a classic triumphant story to tell. Most great presentations are based on one of a few classic story structures. Once you’ve answered the questions above, take a look at which structures would work best for your presentation.
The point is, figure out what would help your audience relate to your story, and build that into your presentation. Pepper in personal anecdotes and brief scenarios to tell the “why” of the story and connect with your audience.
Nyah and Lek will use storytelling throughout their presentation.
- About us—They’ll share why this topic is near and dear to their hearts.
- Why Lightning Components is so great—They’ll give real examples of business problems that they solved with Lightning Components.
- Before each tip—They’ll give a very brief example of the struggle behind each tip.
They’ll use themselves as the characters in their story, but imagine you are telling a different kind of story. You always have the option of creating characters for your story.
So you have your outline and you understand your story. What’s next? Creating that amazing presentation deck, of course!
There are many resources on creating fabulous and effective presentation decks (see the resources section for some of them), but we’ve summarized some key tips.
- Keep it organized—Turn each bullet in your outline into a single slide. This helps ensure that you have just one idea per slide. If you are presenting more than one main idea, create another slide.
- Keep it spare—Don’t overload your slides with content. Only put a few bullets per slide. No need to display everything you say (after all, that’s why you’re there). Just list the key points.
“Limit your slides to just 4–6 bullet points and a single picture. Text and image overload causes people to read your slides rather than listen to you.”—Adam Olshansky (Salesforce Developer, eTouch Systems at YouTube, Salesforce MVP)
- Keep it simple—There’s nothing more annoying than text and graphics flying all over the place. Simple and subtle transitions are enough to get you to the next slide without distracting your audience.
- Keep it legal—Images are essential to any presentation because they can tell a story quicker than a list of bullets. But what’s even more important is having images and video that you have the legal right to use. Luckily there are great sources for public domain images (see our resources section). Check out Creative Commons and learn how to give appropriate attribution to your images and videos.
- Keep it legible—For both text and images, bigger is generally better. You don’t want to be that presenter who says, “Well if you were at the front of the room you’d see that…” Use at least a 24-point font size and ensure that there is enough contrast for people to read. Generally people find it easier to read dark text on a light background.
- Keep it interactive—You may be the sixth presentation of the day, so interacting with your audience will help keep them awake and engaged. If you’ve been talking for more than five minutes or so, it’s time for audience interaction. Do a demo, use a quick audience poll, ask for a volunteer to help illustrate a point. You can even get down from the stage and interact directly with your audience.
- Keep it action-oriented—Think about what you want your attendees to do after your presentation. Having a specific Call to Action (CTA) is essential to get participants thinking beyond your presentation. Did you write a blog article to help promote your presentation? A CTA could be to have your audience pull out their smartphone and bookmark it.
- Keep it error free—There’s nothing quite like getting someone to proofread your presentation. You don’t want people looking at your typos when they should be listening to your message.
“Have a couple people proofread your abstract and make sure it makes sense to them! Limit your use of acronyms unless you're presenting on Alphabet Soup :D”—Adam Olshansky (Salesforce Developer, eTouch Systems at YouTube, Salesforce MVP)
Many conferences require you to use a specific deck template. Sometimes you don’t get the template until quite close to the time of the conference. Don’t worry, you don’t need to wait to create your slide deck. Just keep your layout fairly basic. Most presentation software allows you to apply a theme after the fact, so focus on your content and leave the final formatting until you have the template.
We’ve said that pictures are better than words, so check out this example of a slide deck used during a Dreamforce Admin Zone breakout session.
Using all the tips above, Nyah and Lek have created an amazing slide deck, but it doesn’t end there. For example, an attendee may see a dozen presentations during their four fabulous days at Dreamforce. Even the most amazing first-day presentation will dim by the fourth day. Nyah and Lek create a short url with a memorable name to point people to their session page, where they’ll post slides and code samples.
Another thing you could do, depending on the size of the conference, is create handouts with key resources or other material.
You have your slides, and now it’s time to figure out how you want to talk about them. A great first step is creating a show flow.
A show flow takes all the elements of your presentation, including your demo, and assigns a duration to each one. Even before you start creating your script (more on that in a bit), this will help you figure out where you need to slim down.
Nyah and Lek take their outline and transfer it to a spreadsheet, with a row for each element of the presentation. In the next cell, they add how many minutes they’ll devote to that piece.
Immediately they see that they’re short on time, which is normal at this stage of the process. They’ll need to shorten their intro to Lightning Components and remove at least a couple of tips. They also need to stay very focused during their demos, so as not to run out of time.
After they tighten up the slides, they decide who will take which part of the presentation; they’ll alternate presenting each major section. Below is their final show flow.
Download this sample show flow.
Now that they slides are set and the timing is worked out, Lek and Nyah take their assigned pieces and start working on their script.
Nyah prefers to not have a detailed script. Instead she lists the key points she wants to hit and uses the slides themselves as her crib notes. Lek prefers a full script so that he can practice exactly what he’ll say (and then improvise on it later).
They pass drafts between each other and come up with a great presentation story and flow. They’re pretty excited about what they’ve put together, but they see there’s a piece missing. It’s always better to show than tell. In the next unit, we’ll see how they create some dynamic demos to add power to their words.
“Don't be afraid to be yourself. If you enjoy telling a joke, include it in your presentation—just make it appropriate for the audience.“
Brian Kwong (Better Partners, Salesforce MVP)