Sales presentations, and PowerPoint specifically, have gained a deservedly poor reputation over the last few years. They have created and filled a niche as the narcotics of the sales world…. with the product never quite fulfilling the appetite. This has resulted in a love/hate, dependency/repulsion relationship with sales teams around the globe.
The consequence of this is that people have either resigned themselves to uninspiring presentations that they use simply to fill time in front of a prospect or have abandoned PowerPoint altogether.
But it doesn’t have to be like that….
Firstly we need to accept that PowerPoint is not the problem – blaming the software is the equivalent of banning paracetamol to prevent heroin addiction - so unless we want to spend the future without anything to take in the event of headache, it seems that something else needs to be done.
The shortest journey to a successful presentation is through four basic steps;
Once these four elements are addressed anything is possible.
People remember stories. This is because they draw us in and engage us. We understand the concept of narrative flow. Stories take us on a journey that has a beginning, a middle and an end. Your presentation is (probably) not going to feature on next year’s Man Booker prize shortlist but it can still increase its impact and memorability by adopting a story like structure.
Many presentations ramble around the subject matter without a moments thought on how to engage and create need in their audience. This is the equivalent of writing a book with no plot and no central characters – a book which no-one would finish reading, never mind talk about afterwards.
Content review is more often a case of removal rather than addition.
Ask yourself the question ‘Is all your intended content really necessary’? Will your product or service sell better if your audience has spent ten minutes listening to the history of your company and looking at an organogram of your staff and studio photos of your board members (including the obligatory cut down holiday snap of the most recent appointment)? More often than not the answer is no.
Is all your content relevant to your audience? Irrelevant content is a short cut to an inattentive audience.
For example, if you have an audience of surgeons you may well want to avoid a lengthy explanation of basic anatomy. You can however detail how your latest innovation can facilitate greater vision and dexterity when undertaking an endoscopic jejunum access procedure.
Importantly the same equipment can be presented to non-surgical buying teams with an emphasis on reduced patient recovery times and low infection rates.
The product is the same but the audiences have differing areas of expertise and priority. By recognising this you are immediately talking to them, rather than at them.
Nothing dates like technology and as excited as we all were by clip art when it first arrived on the scene it is no longer the best we can do (unless we are focussing on kitsch). Animations and transitions have also moved forward vastly; to the point of inducing motion sickness if over used. Video files can be imbedded and responsive navigation included.
The possibilities are endless and that’s part of the problem. The design elements should always compliment rather than overshadow your story and message. If your audience leave with one image, transition or animation in their minds then your presentation has failed, it’s the message they should be remembering! Similarly faces that appear blank or green during the presentation are a good sign that your design has gone awry.
Think of your presentation as the most exquisite gateau ever created – unctuous with fresh fruit and cream. The presenter can either serve it to the audience delicately in beautifully served, digestible, portions, complete with appropriate silverware OR drop it whole into their lap and hope for the best.
Let’s bust a few Myths - Presenting well is not genetic. Also there is no definitive can or can’t in presenting, rather a set of skills and techniques that anyone can use to succeed. The most important part of this is to ‘be you’. Emulating someone else’s style will be obvious to your audience and will make your appear insincere. If the presenter can’t be trusted - how can the presentation?
So, Want now? The Perfect Presentation is not a mythical creature that can only be found taking tea with the Loch Ness monster. The Perfect Presentation is available to anyone who is willing to cast a critical eye over what they are using now. Looking at your presentation objectively is not easy but we’ve all been able to critique (and plagiarise) presentations that we’ve seen, so we do have the skills required.
Enlisting specialist help is also an option. This is standard practice with other items of sales collateral (unless you potato print your brochure in your lunch hour) and so surely your presentations deserve the same level of input? After all, your presentation is supposed to achieve the same goal; more customers spending more money.
Presentations are often something of an afterthought in the sales process - this is something we here at Eyeful have seen so often that we’ve taken it home and named it ‘The Presentation Paradox’
. The time and money set aside for any sales campaign is almost exhausted before the presentation is even considered, leaving little opportunity for it to fulfil its potential.
To conclude, whatever your product or service, marketplace, target audience and message, you need your presentation to shine. Why? because a poor presentation is a gift to your competitors.
Eyeful Presentations is a specialist presentation company, initially concentrating on making presentations more visually appealing, Eyeful Presentations soon developed its offering and began to look at the often forgotten but vitally important elements of story and messaging.
Eyeful Presentations developed Presentation OptimisationTM as a way of creating presentations that pulled story, messaging, audience and design throughout the creative process.