Presentation Design has become an expected part of any pitch, such that sales presentations are typically viewed as incomplete if they don’t have a set of slides accompanying them. The problem with this is that the tail ends up wagging the dog; Powerpoint is easy to use but difficult to master, and the result is almost inevitably a sub-standard presentation that props up a talk without adding much to it. If you are going to do Powerpoint, it is worth doing properly since a bad slide-show comes across as amateur – obviously something to be avoided. However, slick Powerpoint design doesn’t just capture the audience visually. It can also help you to deliver an outstanding talk – without notes and the normal paraphernalia of such events.
Once upon a time, Greeks trained in the art of rhetoric would use a series of mnemonics to help them to remember the consecutive points of a speech, thereby enabling them to avoid using notes in their addresses. A favourite device was to use points along a journey or features of a familiar building, which they would mentally link to ideas they were speaking about. Today we rely on cue cards or even read verbatim from a sheet – something that can lead to a halting and unengaging delivery. Nowadays, politicians and other professional speakers often attract praise for their ability to speak for a lengthy period without notes.
Good Powerpoint design should enable you to do the same. Sales presentations can be long, and faltering makes you look bad and reduces confidence in you and your ideas. However, by treating each slide as a mnemonic or summary of what you want to say, you can avoid the problem of ploughing through a sheaf of notes or stack of cue-cards. An apparently off-the-cuff presentation is far more impressive and professional-looking than one that relies on such paperwork – which makes you look like you aren’t familiar with your own material. Start to look at your presentation design as a way to facilitate your own delivery and complement your addresses, rather than being additions that have been tacked on at the end as an afterthought because that is what audiences expect nowadays. You’ll find that it’s easier than you think, and your listeners will appreciate the extra effort you put in and the gloss it gives the event.
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