Do you want to know a secret?
I suck at creating slides from scratch.
That blank slide with the cursor blinking ominously on the screen makes me break out into a nervous sweat 😭
I’m no artist. I studied finance and economics for crying out loud! These hands were made for Excel, not pretty pictures 🤬
Yet here I am hoping to save you from Death by PowerPoint.
You know what I’m really really rreeaaaaaaally good at… tricking everyone into thinking I’m a PowerPoint whizz.
And I’m going to show you exactly how to do it too 😈
It’s Tuesday and time to discover how to make your presentations pop✨
It all starts with two simple words: Swipe File
For those that haven’t heard of a swipe file, it’s a collection of marketing and copywriting examples that can be used for inspiration. Whenever marketers see a good advert or piece of writing they would tear it out of a magazine or take a photo of it and add it to their folder of ideas.
Copywriters, advertisers and other marketers “steal” (i.e. swipe) ideas from proven campaigns and use those as inspiration when they are stuck. It’s not an exact copy and paste, rather they would put their own spin on it.
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso
And that’s precisely what we’re going to do as well. We’re going to create our own “Presentation Swipe File”.
Follow these 5 simple steps to never have to start from a blank slide again 👇
Step 01: Create your Swipe File
A swipe file doesn’t have to be in physical form. It can be digital as well.
Mine is in a PowerPoint file where each slide holds a design or idea that inspires me. Whenever I need to create a slide, I just scroll through my curated set of awesome ideas and cherry-pick one as a starting point and BOOM! everyone at work thinks I’m a slide guru.
Your personal swipe file can live anywhere: In your notes app (OneNote, Notion or Apple Notes), in a Word document, or (like mine) in another PowerPoint file. Neville Medhora (Entrepreneur and Copywriter) created a whole website for his swipe file.
Just start yours and keep it somewhere close by or easy to access. Inspiration pops up all the time. The goal is to capture the idea immediately – so keep the friction low.
“The idea is to make it as easy as possible in the moment to do things that payoff in the long run.”James Clear, Atomic Habits
Step 02: Find cool ideas
I love the internet. With a couple of clicks, you can find almost anything!
Okay, this is a family-friendly newsletter. By “anything” I meant really cool slide designs.
Here’s where I go to for my swipe file:
From left to right:
- Previous slides I created
- YouTube tutorials
- Screenshots from presentions I’ve watched or attended
I know, it’s a lot. But don’t be fooled, I’m not scrolling through all of these sites daily looking for slides.
What you need to do is create an environment for inspiration to come to you. This leads us to…
Step 03: Capture ideas in your swipe file
After you’ve set yourself up to be an inspiration magnet, now it’s time to capture those ideas.
Capture whatever resonates with you. If it looks cool or inspires you then it’s swipe-worthy.
“Don’t make it an analytical decision, and don’t worry about why exactly it resonates—just look inside for a feeling of pleasure, curiosity, wonder, or excitement, and let that be your signal for when it’s time to capture a passage, an image, a quote, or a fact.”Tiago Forte, Building a Second Brain
Capture what speaks to you. The curating bit and keeping your swipe file up to date comes later only after you’ve built slides and tested the ideas with an audience.
When I am actively looking for ideas, I turn to Pinterest and YouTube.
Try this for yourself:
- Visit Pinterest.com
- Click on the search bar and type in “presentation design”
- Click on any of the posts that you like and see all the free ideas right there
Now, try some other search terms like: “PowerPoint Infographic” or “presentation template”… jackpot!
There are other times when ideas and inspiration pop up on my Instagram and TikTok feeds while I’m scrolling. This is more of a passive swipe setup.
If you’re inviting inspiration in, it will show up. Good ideas want to be found.
Step 04: Build the slide
When you take an idea from your swipe file, not only will you avoid starting from scratch, you will start to understand what makes a good slide “great”.
By imitating the design, you will deconstruct how it was put together and automatically remix it with your own content. Practising through copying will quickly add to your ability to create images and visuals in the future.
Try different colour combos or shapes and see what works for you. Combining two to three concepts from different slides has helped me a lot to get to know what works and what doesn’t.
Step 05: Share your creation
Feedback is good.
An excellent opportunity to see if your new design works is to share it with an audience.
I’ll have to do a separate newsletter just on the importance of rehearsal and feedback, but the tl;dr is: the more you practice and get feedback, the more you get better-er 😁
Take note of the feedback, understand what works or needs improving and then go back to Step 02 to find more ideas from your own inspiration wellspring to blow everyone away.
You have officially created an inspiration system.
“Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results…”James Clear, Atomic Habits
Good luck and have fun sharing your work!
Today is the start of a new series: Presentation Power-Up Basics. For the next month, I will share my presentation secrets in a weekly lesson that will help you take your slides from Boring to Brilliant.
Is there a particular area that you currently struggle with? Let me know with a reply and I will create a lesson just for you 🏆
Edition #09 done. Hope you have a fantastic week!
✌️ + ppt
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