Wow Your Audience With PowerPoint (Don’t Send Them To Sleep)

What has been the worst Powerpoint presentation you have seen?Getty_134574783
Most people have a large selection of candidates to choose from.  I have been bored by more bad presentations than I care to think about.
Here are some of the worst mistakes that I have seen:

  • Slides crammed full of pointless information that are impossible to read
  • Over-complicated process flows that bear no relation to real life
  • People reading out their slides, word for word

I could go on and on.  However, let’s move on to an important question.
Are slide presentations really necessary?
I actually think that a good presentation can be very useful.  In my last article, I covered visual learning styles.  If done in the right way, slide presentations can be a very effective way to gain the attention of visual prospects.
To make slide presentations effective, here are three simple rules. The first rule is catered to visual learners.
Use pictures not words
Slides are not the place for lots of words.  A simple picture reinforces the point you are making.  It also makes the other person listen to you because they are not busy reading your slide. If having text aides your audience for future references, then include more detail in the ‘notes’ section.
It’s all about keeping it simple, just like the second rule.
One point per slide
I often end with a deck of well over 100 slides for a 45-minute presentation.  I like to keep people interested visually.  However, each slide has much more impact if it focuses on one thing only.
There is one other rule to remember.
Don’t get too technical
It’s best to keep things simple on slide decks. Some people like to have lots of whizzy animations or video clips.  I have found that these often go wrong when the live presentation takes place. Worse still, they distract an audience.  People focus on your technical wizardry rather than your content.  That can be fatal.
There’s another basic strategy to remember when it comes to slide presentations.
Remember the power of the two-way conversation
It can be very tempting to want to make a presentation to a contact exactly as you rehearsed it.  It is much easier to get through all your slides and then ask for questions.
You will usually receive a much more positive reaction if you encourage audience response. Suddenly you will find that they are interacting with you.  You have their attention.  They are not simply struggling to stay awake during the monologue of a presentation.  This works well even with large groups of people.
Remember these rules next time you plan a PowerPoint presentation

  1. Focus on visuals rather than words
  2. Keep to a single point on each slide
  3. Banish clever animations and similar tricks

If you keep to these rules, you are well on the way to ensuring that you never get voted as anyone’s worst ever presentation.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger series on how to improve your sales conversations and presentations:

Matthew Parker has been buying print for over 20 years. He’s had over 1,400 sales pitches from printers. Now he’s using that experience to help printing companies engage with their customers and sell print more profitably.  Find out more about Matthew on his site. Download his e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them” for free here

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