Some projects involve getting a lot of similar presentations from different business units or people. Examples: the annual investor day, or the annual budgeting round. At the start of the project, the same question comes up? What presentation template to send everyone in order to ensure that things look consistent.

My take:

The most important thing to get right is the programming of the template, not the slide layouts: fonts, colors, default shapes, everything should be hardwired in correctly. 

It is very hard to prepare a complete presentation in the absence of specific facts, or a specific story. No business unit is exactly the same. And if they were the same, these uniform presentations combined would make a visually boring story!

One thing you can do is separate data collection from the the summary presentation. Be strict on format for collecting data (boring tables that are well designed), but give freedom for telling the story.

You could do things in 2 steps: send out the broadcast master template, let people work with it a bit, then schedule follow-up calls to make adjustments.

Or: you can have one business unit push a presentation completely to the end, come up with a finished product, and use that as a visual example for the other units. To see slides filled with data is much clearer than empty theoretical layouts.

If you liked this post, why not subscribe to daily updates about presentation design via email? Just blog posts, no spam, or you can follow Jan on Twitter to never miss a thing.