A Week in My Life: Vincent Thompson, Principal Design Consultant, BrightCarbon
Vincent is Principal Design Consultant at BrightCarbon, the Manchester-based presentation design agency, representing design within the company's leadership team.
Since presentations have become more and more important over the past year, the services provided by BrightCarbon are more useful than ever for a wide range of services from training to sales. Vincent's responsibility is to make sure all presentations have the right look and feel, to help the story and messaging be best understood.
Vincent has more than 15 years worth of experience at a range of design companies all around the North of England, and he runs the external training programme organised by BrightCarbon, which includes free online training courses.
We saw what a week in his life looks like...
I ease into the week by revamping a deck for a client. They’re hosting an analyst day on the US West Coast and the presentation is going to guide attendees through the event. At this stage in the process we’re polishing the details, ensuring consistency, aligning all the visuals and making sure everything is on brand. It’s about 80 slides in total.
It sounds odd but it's a surprisingly nice way to start the week. There’s a quick turnaround on this one so we get it back to the client and then it’s ticked off the list for the week.
It's strange to think I was actually in California for a similar event almost a year ago to the day!
After that, I have a briefing call with a major drinks brand. We’re being brought on to help with a new presentation they need to roll out to their sales reps. Internal communications presentations like this are a big part of what we do. They need reps to be able to navigate through to the content quickly on their iPads. We chat about presentation flow, how it will be used, and start scoping out what it will look like.
One aspect of my job that I love most is that I get to work on some really cool, random projects. Today we were helping a team which is designing a “lookbook” to help pitch for a new fantasy TV series.
We’re taking lots of CGI-rendered scenes, character designs, weaponry and other detail, and inserting it into a PowerPoint for them to easily edit and eventually print. After the briefing discussion - which lasts a few hours - I work up the outline, showing the structure, where the key messages fit, and putting in placeholders for the content to come later.
It should be a fun one to create by the time we get to storyboarding the visuals, and they’d like to go for a funky design aesthetic which will look great.
Back to PowerPoint today. One of our clients has asked us to help fix a presentation that one of their agencies built. Defaults aren’t being used, brand guidelines aren’t met, and critically, there is no real sense of structure of story. It’s lacking some of the key elements that help engage the audience, and help them understand and remember the main points and calls to action.
A lot of people don’t realise it, but PowerPoint has so much potential as a tool for clear, compelling, and persuasive communications. It’s not just popping a few words on a slide and hoping for the best.
This afternoon was a fun one. We’re doing VR testing with our new Oculus headsets. Even with all the changes over the past year in presentations and events, there’s a lot of changes still to come. Hybrid events, where some are in the room and some are remote, are definitely a trend that’s going to keep growing. But there’s still a long way to go for the industry to learn how to make these types of events effective. That’s why we have the headsets - we’re seeing if there are ways VR could allow us to present more effectively in that type of environment.
We may have also had a virtual game of paintball… I’d definitely recommend Rec Room for any teams looking to do virtual socials.
We don’t just make presentations - a lot of our work involves helping companies train teams on how to use tools like PowerPoint and Google Slides. There’s such a misconception about PowerPoint that I find people’s reactions amusing when they see just how much you can do.
If you have some time, then check out the Morph transition and how it can bring your content to life. It’s a guaranteed hit amongst our attendees so I always include it. It not only makes presentations look amazing, but can be incredibly useful to support elegant visual storytelling, and it’s so easy to use.
Today I’m running two training sessions on creating effective presentations, both for different clients - one using PowerPoint, the other on Google Slides.
Prior to the pandemic, these are the types of sessions I would likely have been on-site for. But everything is clearly remote at the moment. It can be hard to do group training online, but it gives you a lot of flexibility to schedule things at convenient times and facilitates more effective spaced learning.
I’ve always done 90% of my work from home so I definitely miss the small things that make being in the office more fun - team socials are definitely near the top of that list - although I’ve no doubt we’ll find ways to get back to that. I’ve recently moved house too, so things are a bit chaotic in my temporary office.
There’s currently a debate about whether the home office or the guest bedroom should get the room with an amazing view over our local park. I think I might lose this battle.
We’ve always been a remote company, with people working from home, co-working spaces, or our two offices. So we’ve found it important to ensure there is time to connect with each other, and every Friday we have a company-wide meeting for 30 minutes where a group has the opportunity to show off cool things they’ve been working on or share interesting techniques.
We’ve had quite a few people join us in the last year too, and although we’re only 80 people, that’s still a lot for a Zoom call. So making it interesting is critical - and it’s a good chance to try out ideas that we incorporate into our work.
I’m wrapping up my week by scoping an e-learning project for one of our pharmaceutical clients. Training and learning has always been so reliant on presentations, but what’s changed is the surge in companies who want to offer their staff on-demand content.
We’re doing more and more of this type of work. I find it really interesting because it’s not just about what content you’re putting into a slide but also about how people learn. You need to make sure you’re creating compelling stories so that it’s engaging, helping learners interact with the content so they have meaningful experiences that support effective learning, and building visual paths to help them navigate through the module.
There’s so much going on in this area, so I also spend some of my day reading up on new trends and ideas. A relaxing task to do on a Friday. A year ago I was a regular swimmer, but that’s not an option at the moment. So instead once I’ve ticked off my to-do list, I try to find a paint brush so I can get started on decorating the new house.