How much does it take to design a presentation? That is a question I get asked often. My answer so far has been that it depends on the importance of your presentation and how familiar you are with the content.
If you are giving a monthly project reporting presentation for an audience you are familiar with, probably you don´t need to prepare for hours. But if you are launching a new product or introducing company transformation program, then probably you need to invest some time and effort to make your message as clear, understandable and persuasive as possible.
My ball park estimate is that for an important presentation you should reserve a buffer period of 2-3 weeks of calendar time and 2-3 days of efficient work time at least. The figure below displays the overall phases of work in a presentation design project.
Partly the reason for my vague answer has been that I have not been disciplined with tracking the time that goes into a presentation design project, since we mostly work fixed priced projects with satisfaction guarantee. My time tracking changed for the better from the beginning of this year, as we started using Toggl timer solution, which makes time tracking really convenient (highly recommended!).
Now I can also give more specific answers on how much time it actually takes to design a presentation.
Breakdown of my presentation design work time in April
In April I worked with eight presentations for eight different clients. The breakdown of the projects was as follows.
- Presentation visuals design – four projects
- 4 x Sales presentations
- Presentation content and visuals design – four projects
- 2 x Sales presentations
- 1 x Investor presentation
- 1 x Keynote presentation
Here is the breakdown of my total 160 hours of work (excluding travel) from Toggl. 100 hours went into presentation design projects. Presentation content design includes revisions with customers, so the division between content and visuals design is not actually as clear as it is in the figure below.
Since the scope of the work varies from one project to another it is not useful to calculate an average length for content design and visuals design. Total work hours to the eight projects vary between 4 hours and 30 hours (excluding travel).
So how much time should you reserve for preparing a presentation?
What I can say based on this data is that if you create a presentation from the scratch – meaning you need to design both the content and visuals – you should reserve at least one full work day for the work on the content.
The amount of work on presentation visuals of course depends on the content. But if you want a ball park estimate of work on the visuals, then I can give this. I delivered a total of about 100 slides to my customers, which took 64 hours to create – so it took on average 40 minutes per presentation visual. Again, based on experience I know that it can actually take anything between 5 minutes and 4 hours per visual.
Let´s say that you have a thirty minute presentation coming up. Based on this data you should reserve at least one full work day for the work on the content and 10 hours for designing a 15 slide presentation. That is if you want to do it properly.
Knowing that none of us have a weekly schedule that would allow two straight days to work on a presentation – you really should begin early enough. Two weeks in advance at least.
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