The other day, I watched a documentary about film scoring, in which the composer could not stress enough how important it is to listen to the director, and the director only.

In presentation design, I see something similar. There is only one owner of a story. In many cases this is the CEO of a startup who needs to raise money, the Senior Partner in an investment fund that needs to raise money, the CFO of a publicly traded company that is updating the analyst community.

This person has a clear idea (most of the times) what her story should be. Or this person might actually not be 100% sure about the story. Or have ambiguous ideas, or contemplating different options. Existing slides/decks or other people’s stories are an interpretation of that story, or a representation of last quarter’s story. These sources hardly ever show ambiguity or uncertainty.

Part of the challenge of being a good presentation designer is to have the credibility to stand up to the CEO and push back against her if you think it is wrong, but also challenge interpretations of other people in the organisation. Credibility you get from being a good visual designer, a good communicator, but most of all, actually understanding what the story is about at a reasonably detailed level. The latter has nothing to do with presentation design.

Cover image by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

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