Powerpoint presentations are a mainstay of corporate bids, and just about any meeting that seeks to influence your audience. Sales presentations happen in their thousands, day in, day out. So what distinguishes the good ones, the five or ten percent that really âwowâ people, from the remainder that are forgotten almost before they are over? The answer is Powerpoint design. It’s something that is apparently so elementary that many businesses donâ’t give any real thought to it. The software is simple enough for anyone to use. The problem is that itâs difficult to use well, and all too often that shows both in the presentations themselves and your audiences’ reactions.
As a general rule, Powerpoint slideshows are treated as a bolt-on extra to spoken presentations. In other words, the presentation is written first, using all of the sales material and research you would expect for a convincing pitch. This is where the real effort goes in. But then the slideshow that accompanies it is created afterwards, typically without a lot of thought. It’s treated as something that’s there because itâs expected (can you imagine a sales presentation without a Powerpoint slideshow…?).
This is a serious mistake. Often the accompanying Powerpoint presentation adds nothing: it just duplicates what is being said. The result is worse than if there was no visual presentation. It distracts the audience from what you are saying, offering little in return.
The real key is to use Powerpoint design to communicate in a way that complements your sales presentations, offering facts and insights that cannot be communicated verbally. Thereâs a maxim that a picture is worth a thousand words. Powerpoint is great for displaying graphs and pie charts, the âbottom lineâ that is complex or tedious when written down but easy to take in at a glance in this format. Powerpoint presentations appeal to a different level of communication. People generally take in information best in one form. That might be on a descriptive, intellectual level (your detailed spoken presentation). It might be on an emotional level (which you can tap into with stories, film and illustrations). Or it could be on an instinctive level, where everything is pre-digested and presented in easy-to-read format for immediate consumption and assessment. Powerpoint is best used as a supporting tool in a presentation that has been carefully crafted to meet all of these requirements.
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