Gate reviews offer a formal means of reviewing and controlling project risk, monitoring any changes in project scope (either formal or informal), and engaging stakeholders to ensure their interest. The reviews also give the project’s executive sponsor the chance to validate the business case of the project.
The review gate is vital to the decision-making process. The way a project is presented in the gate presentation, along with the information that is put forward, all influence how decisions are made. So, what does a good gate presentation look like?
Far too often, the slides are text-heavy, and the person simply reads off them. And while there is important information being discussed and employees have the best of intentions of listening, their minds invariably begin to wonder.
Below are my top 3 suggestions, along with some examples of best practice layouts that you may wish to consider, helping to make the data you are presenting more visually engaging.
Keep it concise.
Indeed, a lot of information is needed to make a decision. However, we can sometimes over-engineer and have too much information in a presentation; information that may not be vital to the decision-making process. You must find a balance between writing a book that no one will read, and something so concise that it does not include all the information needed.
It is imperative to get the information in a format or structure so that the decision-maker can make the decision but without having to sit through a 30-page PowerPoint presentation. Therefore, my first recommendation would be to not make it too text heavy to ensure that the information being presented is easy to digest. Perhaps consider condensing information into fewer categories.
Another way to convey your information as efficiently and clearly as possible is by using the “Rule of 3”. This is a good way to avoid information overwhelm. The idea is to stick to only 3 main ideas that will help deliver your point. Each of the ideas can be further broken into 3 parts to explain further if need be on a separate page. Simple messages are easier to retain.
Nothing makes peoples’ eyes glaze over faster than a text-heavy document. Using images, charts, and graphs, or anything else that is visual will be helpful to break up the monotony of words.
Make it visual.
Colour, images, and graphs all make a presentation more visually appealing and easier to engage with. Remember, the images you choose for your presentation are perhaps as important as the message. Avoid default clip art and cheesy graphics on your slides. You want images that not only support and reinforce the message but also elevate it.
Less is more. Not only is this true for how much information you pack into a slide, but also in terms of images and colours. Colour is important, and contrasting colours can be used to draw attention – but don’t overdo it. You don’t want your slides to look messy. One of the cardinal sins of bad PowerPoints is cramming too many details and images on one slide, which makes it difficult for people to focus their attention and retain information. Leaving lots of “white space” on a slide helps people focus on your key points.
Not only are colours and images important, but also your choice of text. Using sans-serif fonts (Helvetica, Tahoma, Verdana) is easier to read on screens. Also, many experts agree that your font size should be at least 30pt. Not only does it ensure that your text is readable, but it also forces you to include only the most important points of your message and explain it efficiently, since space is limited.
Keep it consistent.
Whatever style and colour palette you pick, you want to keep it consistent throughout the presentation. Having one style for one slide and then a different style for a different slide can be jarring to the audience. You want to help convey information as efficiently and clearly as possible. By keeping the theme and design consistent, you are allowing the information to stand out and helping the presentation to flow much better, so keep with a similar design and colour throughout.
Tip: Microsoft offers built-in themes and colour variations to help you design your slides with a cohesive look. To choose from these pre-built themes, choose the “File” tab again, select “New”, choose one of the options, and click “Create.”
Otherwise, you can use PowerPoint elements, your design sense, and your brand’s colour palette to make your own “theme.”
Creating great slides is similar to creating any great content. It’s about making it easy to digest and visually appealing while telling a compelling story. And remember, your PowerPoint presentation is not a set of notes for you to read off, but a tool to help empower your message.