In the agency world, it’s fair to say that PowerPoint design sits somewhere at the bottom of the pile. Working with a specialist presentation design company will generally deliver better results, with less effort, and typically at lower cost. So why do some companies still not use presentation agencies for slide design?
Choosing a presentation design agency is a lot harder than buying a product. With a product, unless there’s some defect, you get the same thing as 1000s of others. So you can read reviews, examine specs, and make an informed decision. With presentation design services, you don’t know what you’re going to get until the project is nearly finished. What you get isn’t the exact same thing as what any other company ends up with. So how do you choose the right agency for your presentation design work?
Now, of course, when an agency tells you how to go about choosing an agency, you should be somewhat cynical. But in this article, to keep things transparent, I’m going to explain my thinking, talk about fit (no presentation agency is right for everyone), and acknowledge the challenges around making an informed decision. I’ll talk about three key areas – capabilities, approach, and experience.
Presentation design agency capabilities
Messaging and storytelling
Some presentation agencies can help you with your slide design, but that’s it. Others can also help you tell your story more persuasively, which is a significant part of creating an effective presentation. If you want help with more than just design, make sure you find an agency with broader capabilities.
Just remember that offering something isn’t the same as doing it well – try to get a sense of how well the presentation agency you are considering understands messaging by reading their articles, looking at their examples, and even talking to them about their understanding of your situation.
Presentation skills training
Slides are – of course – only part of a presentation. The other part is the presenter actually presenting the slides. Great slides presented badly don’t make for a good presentation. That’s where presentation skills training comes in. Some – but not all – presentation companies offer this.
You may consider using a completely separate presentation skills coach, but this often won’t work as well if the coach’s approach isn’t aligned with your new presentation. Finding an agency that can coach your presenters to deliver your new slides effectively – how they were designed to be presented – is the best way to ensure success.
Can a presentation agency offer advanced PowerPoint training so that your people can become self-sufficient, or are you expected to keep coming back for help?
With the right PowerPoint training your team can learn how to add to your presentation, create new slides, and use a new presentation as a starting point not the final word. Not every company wants to touch PowerPoint for themselves – but if you do, make sure that your PowerPoint agency offers training, and check out any free online classes or courses so that you can judge quality.
Presentation agencies that understand how to use PowerPoint as the basis for animations, or on SlideShare, or how to use presentation content as the basis for eLearning, can give you more for your money. You work together to create visual animated slides, and can then take sequences from your slides and use them for video – to use online or for demand generation. Or you can use the same slides that you might present face-to-face for sales and use them as part of an eLearning module that teaches sales people about your products or services. Or you can repurpose a training presentation and turn it into eLearning to reinforce your material as part of a blended learning solution.
So, if you work with a presentation agency with broad capabilities, you can get more – often much more – for your money.
Size and stability
There are presentation agencies out there with (literally) a couple of people, calling themselves the ‘UK’s leading presentation agency’. But how will they cope if you want a few projects delivered at once? How will they cope if someone gets sick? Will they still be there in a month or two? Will one late payment destroy them? Do they have the full range of skills and expertise that you need?
Some people prefer working with a small agency, others with a bigger agency. There are advantages to both in terms of service levels, capabilities, and focus. Pick a presentation design agency that you believe can meet all of your needs, while giving your company the attention it deserves.
Presentation design agency approach
Process and ease of collaboration
Working with any agency, you need a robust process to drive each project forward, but with enough flexibility that you actually enjoy working on the project together and feel like your needs are met. Some companies actually want a stricter process – so that their internal teams are forced to make decisions. Other companies want greater flexibility, so that working on a presentation with an agency can fit more easily around other responsibilities.
Some agencies have just one way of working – and offer little flexibility in terms of project management. Others can adjust their project approach for different clients upon request.
Some agencies might talk in terms of robust processes – but when it comes to it, they simply can’t meet the requirements of some larger customers. Others are so strict in their processes that many will dislike working with them.
It isn’t always easy to assess what a presenation agency will be like to work with, but if you know you are looking for a certain approach, talking to the agency is a good place to start.
You only really know if your slides are right when you present them. And if you find out that a few tweaks would make things work a lot better, the last thing you want is a presentation company that tries to charge you an extra 20% for minor edits.
The best presentation agencies work in a way that allows you to get things done quickly, try them out, and then build on what works but change what doesn’t work – all in a way that’s easy for you. The worst are a pain to work with, quick to invoice, slow to respond, and see every tiny change request as an opportunity to make money.
One of the great advantages of PowerPoint is that millions of people have a copy on their PC at work, and know how to get basic things done. When you work with a presentation agency, you want to make sure that what they deliver is in a format that you can use. Your slides should be PowerPoint. Text should exist as text in PowerPoint, and not as part of a large flattened Illustrator file. Ask your agency – particularly if you are considering working with your marketing agency for presentation design – if text on slides will be editable.
Some agencies are looking to maximise their revenue on each project, with little regard for the long-term value of a client relationship. Others look at the bigger picture, and invest in relationships and lifetime value.
Some agencies have opaque pricing, that is only available if you are prepared to listen to hard-sell from a salesperson. Their pricing might introduce perverse incentives like taking longer to get stuff done when charging by the hour, so that they can make more money.
Other agencies have transparent pricing, and try to make sure that client interests are aligned with their own.
Luckily, you can often get a sense of where a presentation agency sits in terms of their commercial approach before you agree to work together. Trust your instinct – do you think they will treat you fairly? Do you think you’ll get value for money?
Presentation design agency experience
Does the presentation agency have examples of work that you like? Do they look good? If you want animation to help tell your story, can they do this too?
Remember, you aren’t picking your look-and-feel when going through a portfolio, but you need to be happy that the quality is where you want it to be. Gather some creative types that you trust, and take a look at the work the agency has produced.
Clients and verticals
Has the presentation agency worked in your vertical, or in similar verticals? Have they worked with companies like yours, in terms of size, approach, or location?
Understanding your vertical can make briefings and communication much easier. Experience with similar companies improves the chance of a good fit.
Remember too to ask about the amount of work the agency has done with a client or in a vertical – some will add a client logo (without authorisation) to their website after a single unsuccessful project from a well-known brand.
Types of presentations
Not all presentations are the same. Has the presentation agency you are considering got experience of sales presentations? Training presentations? Investor relation presentations? Fundraising presentations? Webinar presentations? Product launch presentations?
Unless you just want someone to operate PowerPoint or Keynote under your guidance, the type of presentation you need help with can make a big difference. Ask to see relevant examples, anonymised if necessary.
Summary – choosing a presentation design agency
No single presentation design agency will be right for every client. There is huge variability in terms of size, capabilities, pricing, experience, geographical presence, approach, and pretty much everything else. There are presentation agencies in India and Indonesia tweaking slides for ultra-low prices, and there are agencies in Silicon Valley charging vast amounts. Decide what you need, set a budget, and then talk to the agencies.
At BrightCarbon, we’ll be happy to create a free sample to show you how we could add value. Just get in touch.Leave a comment
DirectorView Joby Blume's profile
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It is, quite simply, the best deck we have. I did a nice presentation with it yesterday and would like to do the same next week... I am sure it will get a lot of use. The visual impact and flow are compelling!Peter Francis Janssen