THINK THEMATIC

So you’ve burned the candle at both ends getting all your facts and figures down, all your graphs and charts together. In fact, you’ve even gone one step ahead and got your gifs and jazzy bits in place. But just as you get set to put it all into that crackerjack killer presentation, you hit that old familiar roadblock – how????

How does it all fit together? All the pieces in the puzzle make perfect sense to you – but that’s because you already know your stuff. How will you make it make sense to the client you’re trying to convince? How will it all add up? That too in no more than 20 minutes when the material you’ve got is worth a whole month’s hard work (if not more)?

Here’s a simple way to take the “ow” out of the “how”: Think of a theme.

No, scratch that. Think of at least 3 themes.

The more pointedly you think, the sharper your theme is likely to be.

Begin by asking yourself a simple question and write down the answers, no matter how obvious they may seem to you.

For example:

Q1: What are 3 key words you want to emphasize?
or
Q2: What’s the one thing that connects X (eg. the strategy you’re proposing) and Y (its impact on the client’s business)?

If, for discussion’s sake, the 3 words are TRANSFORMATION // POTENTIAL // SPEED and the one thing that connects X and Y is EFFICIENCY then what themes come to mind?

Off the top of your head, list them down – in this case intuitive thinking works best:

I. Superheroes
II.Bullet trains
III. Magic wands

Each theme will offer you a bank of visual and verbal metaphors, which will then help you to construct your presentation in a seamless and coherent way.

The theme is the thread that you hold on to as you guide the client through the labyrinth of data, insights and infographics.

It will also help you to frame – not 10 confusing questions – but the one key question that can pull all aspects of your material together!

For example:

How does your product/offering/idea/strategy/model transform existing potential into super-efficiency with maximum speed?

Suppose you opt for Theme I: this already offers 2 visual approaches – superheroes in comic-books or science-fiction movies.

Now it’s a question of marrying words and visuals together in a way that contributes to this theme, rather than taking away or distracting from it.

If you take Theme II, you think automatically of Japan and France (the Shinkansen and TGV respectively)… but how do you take this forward? How can the visual and factual language of hi-speed transport help you? Research! Study the maps and routes and networks… and use the thematic strands to make your presentation go exactly where you want it to.

If you choose Theme III, you go back to Wonderland. Harry Potter, Fairy Tales, Disney – all of it is at your disposal for you to re-imagine your own case.

As you think these options through, you will realize which theme lends itself best to your particular requirements. Go for the one that will not restrict your flow, but simply focus and channelize it. Don’t force a theme on your material. Let it emerge from your material. When you see the pieces of your puzzle falling into place, you’ll know you’ve hit on the right one.

If, as you’re reading this, you’re wondering whether all that extra work will be worth it (ideating, researching, brainstorming, jotting down notes and ideas!!!) remember this – the more you do before the presentation, the less you sweat during it!

Good luck!

And in moments of doubt, remind yourself: great thematics boost sound schematics!