Japanese anime and PowerPoint slides have more in common than you might think. There is a huge army of people who take Cosplay very seriously, and that’s exactly how you should treat your next presentation.

Cosplay, which comes from the words ‘costume’ and ‘play’ is the act of dressing up in costumes to portray characters from various media, including but not limited to: movies, TV shows, video games and comics. In recent years, with the growing popularity of nerd culture, cosplay has become more popular than ever, with people such as myself partaking in it. In my 6 years of Cosplaying, I have learned quite a few skills that I apply to my daily life. I realized recently that some of these skills could also be applied when making PowerPoint presentations. So, if you are interested in learning what there is to learn from dressing in spandex costumes with capes, keep reading below!

Sketch things out beforehand

It goes without saying that it is easier to plan things if you begin with a sketch. For me, this is especially true when making costumes, but also applies when working on a presentation. When I’m working on a prop or accessory for one of my costumes, I sketch out a couple methods of how I would go about creating the final piece, including different materials, scale and construction. After taking into account cost, material and feasibility, I begin working on the actual piece.

Sketching is one of the most useful brainstorming tools. It’s a great way to shuffle through ideas without having to commit to any one in particular. Sketches are also useful because you can create them quickly without wasting time or effort and you can receive feedback before you attempt to create a final product. In addition, they allow you to pinpoint any issues you might have when creating the final presentation. In the cosplay world, sketching a design before trying to create a final product also allows you to avoid accumulating a large pile of unusable costume parts.

I follow the same trajectory when tackling slides. It begins with a couple of sketches and I pick the one that I feel does the best job of telling a story, but also can be created within the given timeframe. This way, from the beginning I can be confident that my design is the best I could come up with and that I will be able to create it.

Balance time and effort

An extremely important concept when it comes to Cosplay is balancing time and effort. Some Cosplayers become obsessed with replicating details identically in their costumes and end up spending their time at the convention gluing rhinestones to a shoe instead of meeting their favorite celebrities. Others show up without putting in any effort and realize that their costume doesn’t fit because they never tried it on properly.  Because of this, it’s important to learn to determine how much effort is worth what you want to achieve with your costume, and also how much time it will take you to create. It’s about finding that sweet spot in which you can finish your costume before the convention and show up feeling confident as well as stress-free.

With presentations, I find myself taking a similar approach. It’s important to know your limits, in terms of time but also in terms of skill. One has to be able to create slides that look great, but also that can be accomplished in a given time frame. Impressive visualization is great – and is definitely the most effective approach in most cases. If you’re pushed for time – set realistic goals. For example: concentrate on creating an impressive visualization for your 2 or 3 most important slides, or concentrate on just one improvement to make across the board (e.g. swapping bullets for icons, or removing any full sentences).

Keep true to the brand

Another thing to keep in mind is brand. When Cosplayers do photo-shoots, they always keep their character in mind with their posing and attitude. This allows the Cosplayer to achieve better photographs that accurately capture the personality of their character. For example, you wouldn’t want to dress up as Disney princess and have a grouchy expression, right?

For presentations the logic is the same. When making a deck of slides, the color scheme, iconography and elements should reflect the brand that the presentation is being created for. What do we mean? Have a read of this article to find out how consistency with your brand can make your content instantly more slick.

Beyond that, the tone of your narrative, the depth of the information and the approach to the subject matter should all fit with your business’ branding. The way a pharmaceutical firm presents itself is very different to the way a confectionary company does. It follows that the design, tone, depth and content of their presentations would also be very different. Yet, all of these components come together to create a cohesive package, just as the cheesy smile, floaty movement and beautiful dress go together to make a fairytale princess.

Know your content

Lastly, being a Cosplayer sometimes involves more than making a costume. For sponsored events in particular, Cosplayers are expected to know the series they are cosplaying from. This is mostly because of interviewers who may ask specific questions about the character you are portraying. As a paid representative of that brand, it would be pretty bad if you didn’t know your character’s name.

This concept applies to presentations as well. It’s great to be a subject matter expert on everything in your slides, but in reality this often isn’t the case. Presentations are often created from a mix of sources, on different subject areas, with contributions from different experts. Some content you’re bound to know better than others. So while you might not be the guy on each topic, it’s really important you’re able to speak confidently, answer questions and clearly explain everything covered in your slides. Rehearsals, crib sheets and asking obvious questions are all essential elements of preparation – and all can help you to learn your stuff.

By planning ahead with sketches, managing your time and being familiar with your brand and content you can immediately put yourself at an advantage when creating a presentation. Instead of being that confused newcomer who wanders into a convention with their props falling apart you can transition into a seasoned champion of Cosplay. Well, more like a seasoned champion of PowerPoint, but PowerPoint users are superheroes in their own right aren’t we?

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Amy Post

Senior consultant

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