Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Preventing 'Death by Powerpoint'

I have sat through many presentations in my previous life as a Sales Director at companies like Telewest, Cable London and Holiday Ownership Exchange and believe me, I feel your pain when it comes to Slides or Powerpoint presentations.

As soon as you walk into the seminar room and you see the laptop and computer your heart sinks because you KNOW that not only have you got to listen to someone, you have to read the slides and, probably, make notes.

I love French Cinema and I speak a little French so I ignore the subtitles as much as I can but many people hate the idea of reading a movie, they want to watch one. 

It's the same with presentations.  Some people have EVERYTHING they say, EVERY WORD, up on that screen and they not only read the slide out but they POINT AT THE WORDS AS THEY GO ALONG!!!

That is a combination of lack of confidence, bad presentation skills and overkill.  It is such poor preparation that it borders on Preparation H!!

When these presenters look at the audience can't they see the sea of bored people with a glazed look on their faces. (I know, I was one of them).

Steve Jobs had a list of rulles for presentations.

1.   Open with words that are in line with the theme by using a headline.
2.   Make the theme clear and consistant so it sets the direction.
3.   Provide an outline.
4.   Open and close each section with a clear transition.
5.   Sell an experience.
6.   Use powerful words like Extraordinary, amazing, cool, awesome and incredible.
7.   Make numbers and statistics meaningful and then break them down.
8.   Analogies help connect the dots.
9.   Paint a simple picture that doesn't overwhelm.
10. Rehearse it.

In order to create a PowerPoint presentation that is engaging and compelling, use this list as rocket fuel that will fire your presentation to the stars.  It's a list of do's and dont's that has been built over years of experience.  Add what works for you and let me know your own tips.

1. Clip art is funny but don't even think about using crap that a 10 year old could have come up with.  Your credibility will be shot.  Limit the clip art or better still leave it out completely
2. Add an unexpected, personal, FUNNY photograph.
3. The slide is meant to reinforce the point you are making.  NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND
4. Don't EVER say, "This one's a little hard to read." SLIDES ARE FREE. Split the slide into two.
5. Don't have your slides spin around or have moving text -It is very annoying!  I have heard salespeople in the audience next to me having side bets on which direction the slide will come in from. 
6. Don't put more than one point on a slide.
7. Count the laughs. At least one for every five slides. (If there's at least one laugh every five slides, you can count on one other thing: money.)
8. Use a white background. The fancy ones are distracting.  They are an embellishment that detracts from your message.
9. Include a logo. I put a bug-size logo in the lower right corner of every slide. I have no idea why, but no one has ever said anything to me. And I figure if it's good enough for MTV, Comedy Central or any of those Cable channels, it's good enough for me.
10. Use the font IMPACT. Set the master screen for 44pt and shadow the type.
11. Emphasize words by blowing them up a few point sizes. Make them a different colour. I use Purple.
12. If you're labouring over one slide that you are trying to "make work," delete it. It was probably a weak point.
13. Use slides that tell a story, rather than relate a fact. Stories are the most powerful part of the sale. Here's the rule: Facts and figures are forgotten, stories are remembered and retold.
14. Are your slides engaging? There are two kinds of slides: engaging and distracting. Review each slide and ask yourself, "How engaging is this slide?" If it's not engaging, then it's distracting, so why the hell are you using it?
15. Are your slides asking questions or making statements? Questions will promote conversation and engage. Statements are just that - There is no conversation.
16. How many of the claims that you makE in your sales presentation, by PowerPoint or verbally, are backed up with proof?
17. Incorporate video testimonial clips throughout your slide presentation to back up and prove that your claims are real and transferable-real, transferable, and acceptable to the customer.
By now you're probably totally disheartened about your PowerPoint presentation because I've exposed it for the powerless "point" it is. But take heart. Your competition's slide presentation is equally pathetic.

Here is the secret solution: Convert the time you're wasting by watching television reruns and use it to develop your own PowerPoint presentation that is 100 percent in terms of the customer's needs and desires. Your PowerPoint presentation should engage the prospective customer by asking questions and promoting dialogue, include a little humour to keep the sales presentation alive, and support every fact and claim with testimonials.
And by the way, there's one question that you better make certain appears toward the end of your PowerPoint presentation: a question that asks for the sale.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you to make sure the Powerpoint presentation you are constructing is interesting is this.  When you are done, leave it for two days.  Then look at it again.  If it STILL looks great, use it.  That break will let your mind review it with fresh eyes.


 

*With thanks to Steve Jobs and Jeffrey Gitomer

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