If yours is like most financial services firms, your team of analysts relies heavily on PowerPoint decks to deliver key presentations to clients and other stakeholders. These presentations are a critical part of how you do business, but the decks themselves may seem like a minor detail in the grand scheme of your brand identity. Yet when you think about it, they actually represent a fairly large percentage of the branded touchpoints your audience encounters. Which means your presentation decks may have an outsized impact on your brand’s overall expression and reception.

Unfortunately, many otherwise savvy financial services firms unintentionally undermine their brand when it comes to their presentation decks. They carefully curate everything from their website and marketing emails to their branded environments and printed materials, yet they allow individual analysts to produce their own presentation decks with little design oversight and even less brand consistency.

Too often, this ad hoc approach results in a visually inconsistent experience that actively works against your carefully crafted brand.

The fix? A top-down mandate to design on-brand presentation decks—and improve the way your analysts deliver presentations in the process.

What’s Wrong With Your Financial Services Team’s Presentation Decks?

Individual analysts prepare their own presentation decks at the majority of financial services firms. They may send them to an internal publications team or design resource to get “spiffed up,” but there’s usually very little in the way of asset-specific design guidelines or branding oversight. Not only that, but the internal designers are usually there to “make things pretty,” not offer strategic design advice. It’s no surprise that this adds up to an inconsistent experience across presentation decks.

Think of it this way: Analyst presentations are a very public piece of how you represent your company to the world. Just as your team wouldn’t dream of dressing in the same clothes they wear to clean the garage when they deliver presentations, they shouldn’t present a “poorly dressed” deck that doesn’t reflect your brand’s identity and values.

So how do your team’s presentation decks stack up—and what image are they presenting to the world?

Answer These Questions to Evaluate Your Firm’s Presentations

Take a moment to review a random sampling of your team’s decks. Now ask yourself:

  • Are they visually consistent?
  • Do they look and feel like your brand?
  • Do they accurately use your brand’s colors, fonts, imagery and language?
  • Are the individual slides well designed, or are they crammed with small-point type and financial data?
  • Are headlines and bullet points brief and easily scannable?
  • Do they tell an easily discernible story with a clear beginning, middle and end?

If the answer to any of the above questions is no, you have work to do—and so do your analysts.

Well-Designed Presentation Decks Mean More Engaging Presentations

Poorly designed, off-brand presentation decks are almost inevitable if you don’t establish top-down guidelines and a clear process for developing these key assets.

But be forewarned: Your efforts to streamline your team’s presentation decks may be met with resistance. The reason? They may be crafting those less-than-ideal decks with themselves rather than your audience in mind.

You see, analysts and consultants often look to their presentation decks as informational crutches. Rather than developing an engaging presentation they can deliver from memory, they may prefer to cram all their talking points on the slides. This approach takes the pressure off analysts to really “own” their presentations. But it also makes for busy, unattractive slides and a less engaging experience for your stakeholders.

Another contributing factor? Many professional services firms use PowerPoint to prepare presentation decks and printed assets, such as one-sheets and brochures. Often, they mistakenly think they can design one asset to satisfy both categories. However, it’s important to distinguish between presentation decks and printed materials. While the former are meant for scanning in combination with listening, the latter are meant for deeper reading. Their intended use cases are totally different, and the designs should reflect that.

Think back to the last really compelling talk or lecture you watched. Whether it was a TED Talk or a local speaking event, we’re willing to bet the presenter did much more than just read a list of bullets from a series of slides. They had an engaging story to tell, one they delivered with energy and enthusiasm. The presentation deck wasn’t comprehensive. Rather, it punctuated the presentation with arresting images or key takeaways.

The same should be true of your team’s presentations—and the decks that support them.

The upshot? Improving your team’s presentation decks won’t just mean adopting a new way of designing PowerPoint slides; it will mean embracing a new way of preparing for and delivering presentations.

How to Design Effective, Brand-Appropriate Financial Services Presentation Decks

What exactly makes for an effective, well-designed presentation deck? Your team’s decks should:

  • Reflect your brand, both in terms of how they look and how they read.
  • Include just one concept per slide rather than a slew of different ideas in a long list of bullet points.
  • Have room to breath, with plenty of white space to make individual slides easier to read and understand.
  • Dial up the contrast between colors to improve readability. 
  • Include short, easy-to-read headlines that quickly tell your audience what each slide is about.
  • Tell a story, including a distinct beginning, middle and end.
  • Meet your stakeholders where they are by understanding their top needs and presenting information that answers their most pressing questions.

The best way to ensure your presentation decks meet these stringent criteria? Make it clear you expect your team to produce well-designed, on-brand decks.

But don’t leave the “how” up for interpretation.

Develop a set of clear, detailed presentation deck guidelines for your team to follow. Those guidelines should mesh with your overarching brand guidelines and demonstrate how they extend to presentation decks. You may even find that you can templatize these assets and save your team precious time in the process.

The most sophisticated financial services firms already recognize presentation decks for what they are: a critical piece of their brand experience. It’s time for your organization to do the same.

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