Michelle Mandolia on One Year After I Got Hooked On Potent Presentations

My name is Michelle Mandolia and I work in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Evaluation Support Division.  At last year’s conference, I attended Stephanie Evergreen’s three Potent Presentations Initiative sessions on Message, Design, and Delivery (now available as a 3-part webinar series or as PDFs at http://p2i.eval.org/).  P2i has been a game changer for me.  Where I used to feel apprehensive about presentations, I feel excited to sit down to create because I know I have the tools.   Here are a few tips on what helped me gain my footing once the introduction to content was over.

Lesson Learned: Start anywhere.  P2i is a menu of many delicious options and you get to keep coming back for more.  Start where you are most excited and most comfortable and build from there.  I was eager to revamp a slide deck I had inherited.  I mainly focused on design elements—making sure my photos were high quality and full bleed; eliminating bullets; and sticking to one idea per slide.  Check out a before and after:


Mandolia 1 Mandolia 2

Mandolia 3 Mandolia 4

Developed into 3 Afters

Lesson Learned: Start small. For my coworker, a total redesign sounded daunting.  She started with a new presentation and focused on minimizing text and making it pop.  Our manager, whom my colleague was briefing, really responded to the new design.  Here are examples of a previous version of a slide she used and the new version:

 Mandolia 5


Mandolia 6


Lesson Learned: Just start. Ad libbing from bulleted slides is my comfort zone.  Scripting the entire presentation makes for a great follow up reference document but it didn’t work for me during delivery.  Now, I make my talking points into actual bulleted slides—a subtle distinction but a psychological trick that helps me present with greater ease.  The slide deck that the audience sees is new and follows p2i principles but the hardcopy I use when presenting contains my speaker note slides.  Here’s an example:

Mandolia 7

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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