Last year I told myself that if I have the opportunity to present to somebody, I will always create some visual aids to complement what I say. It’s an easy way to differentiate myself from my peers, who rarely make slide decks unless they are training clients. It also shows that I’m well-organized and a structured thinker.

I found out today that I can build a good-enough slide deck in about ten minutes and present it right afterward. Half an hour before a team teleconference today, I was asked to present on a technology topic to my team. I said yes, then dropped everything for about ten minutes to create a brief slideshow on a technical topic of my choosing. I decided to share with my group how I started using Python to automate data validation. Because I am the only Python user in the group—which is not a technical group—the idea was entirely new to them. This allowed me to keep my presentation brief and high-level, while still being informative.

I normally spend many hours working a slide deck. Much of that time spent brainstorming visual designs, arranging objects to build diagrams, and revising slides to make them more concise and more visually appealing. Today, I had no time for any of that. Instead, I turned to PowerPoint’s Design Ideas feature, which automatically formatted my text and the one image I imported (the Python logo) into six presentable slides. I selected a theme with a dark background and light text—which is the opposite of our company’s slide template—to make everything pop. Then I finished up by changing a couple of the PowerPoint SmartArt shapes from what Design Ideas had applied. The result was inferior to the slide decks I painstakingly assemble, but it was far better than nothing, and nothing was my competition, after all.

I hope that showing good presentation skills time after time will help me move up into a more senior position eventually. It’s just one thing I’m working on to get there.