The Inherited Deck

We feel your pain. You’re a good presenter. You’re compelling. People listen to you and you’ve got a lot to say. But this time your presentation is about what somebody else had to say. You’ve inherited 30 slides, a forty-five minute time slot, and some pretty dense material.

The Presentation Hand-off

Don’t Worry. Just because you didn’t write the show doesn’t mean you can’t be the star. Follow these five guidelines and you’ll win every time!

Image: Consult the Author of the Presentation

Consult that resource early and often. Get clear on the author’s intention for the story, and how much leeway you have to adjust. Request the three-minute version: beginning, middle, and end. Take the opportunity to experience the author’s way of navigating complicated slides. Then confirm your understanding by re-telling it your way.

Presentation as StorytellingYou are not there to narrate as you click through someone else’s ideas. You’re the keeper of the wisdom, and we pass on wisdom through storytelling. Find the clear and compelling story you want to tell, and simply use the deck to illustrate it.

Rock Your Presentation

So prepare for it like you built it. Discover your compelling Hook, Promise and Roadmap. Return to your Hook in the close. Rehearse the Open, Close and Story Arc as often as you can. Pay special attention to your Transitions. Smooth transitions between slides are especially hard when you haven’t built the deck.

Simplify complicated slides in the presentation

Some slides need to be complicated. Teach them. Take your time. Build the ideas. And summarize as you go, especially if you don’t want to dive into the details. “What I want you to take from this slide is…” “What I need you to know here is…” Make sure your audience always gets the point.

Presentation as collaboration

Sometimes you want your audience to receive the product of a collaboration. When you can, call out the author’s expertise. “Jill wants you to see…” Meanwhile, don’t throw your author under the bus with phrases like, “I’m not sure what Joe meant here…” You’ll only undermine the hard work of the team.

Other times, your author is a ghostwriter. You’re presenting it. Own it!

Successfully presenting someone else's slides

Every star realizes that the show is ultimately about the audience and how the story impacts them. Apply these five guidelines. Rehearse. Rehearse some more. And you’ll present every deck like it was written just for you.

— Andrew Hurteau