Are Your Slide Presentations Effective?
After watching or reviewing hundreds of slide presentations used by sales people, I have decided very few of these sales people understood the term effectiveness when applied to their slide presentations. Most of the slides are nothing more than data spreadsheets or short books of information text covering every slide.
This is not the way to “win friends and influence people” during a sales presentation. Take some time to create the professional image you want the customer to take away from your sales presentation. Take some time to prepare your presentation and use techniques to help build a professional image.
Here are Ten Tips to Effective Slide Presentations…
1. Plan Your Time – In other words give yourself enough time to create and edit your slide presentation. Putting together a slide presentation an hour before your presentation is usually the fast track to an ineffective presentation. Spelling and grammatical errors will be found – by the customer! Remember this equation – for every minute of planning you save four minutes in execution,
2. Prepare an Outline – Organize your thoughts and think about what visuals could tell the story without you writing a book of test. Visuals should help emphasize your message for the customer, So, write out an outline of your presentation, then review the information and think about what visuals would tell the story for you or would support your primary point.
3. Consult a Graphic Artist – If you feel you have no visual talent, then consult a graphic artist or a product marketing professional on your team for recommendations. These people should be able to provide you with some insight as to what to use in your visuals. However, one word of caution – too often sales people totally rely upon someone else to design and create their slide presentations. This can be an ineffective tactic due to two primary reasons – one, the person provides the slides at the last minute giving you no time to practice or review – results are you end up reading the slides to the customer – bad image. Or, two, the person doing the slides has no sales experience or knowledge and creates a “cute” presentation offering no sales message or targeted objective for you and the customer. Use graphic artists for their expertise and remember you are responsible for the final product.
4. Background and Color Combinations – If you are creating a slide presentation for a projector, then you need to run a test using the projection system. The reason this is important is due to what you see on your computer screen – the best view – and what you see on a projected image can be totally different regarding visual effectiveness. I have made this mistake on occasion due to thinking everything looked great on the computer screen – only to find out an image was too dark on the big screen or the font colors washed out in a background color. There are several articles and tutorials on color combinations for slides. The two most common – because they work every time – is black fonts on a white background and a yellow or white font color upon a dark blue background. These are true color contrasts that work every time.
5. Use Logos – It is a good idea to include your logo on slides – in fact with the new transparent functions on the leading slide show software you can place your logo on every slide usually in the lower corners of the slide. Also, use your customer’s logo at the beginning of the presentation. Here you want to make certain you have followed the exact requirements for your customer’s logo – color and size and font type – or you will get a negative comment from your customer. It is best to download a copy from their website or even better request a copy of their logo from an administrative assistant of the customer.
6. Fonts – I have seen slides using ten different fonts on one slide. Bad karma! Frugal is the name of the game with fonts. Use one font and no more than two in any slide presentation. Use common fonts such as Helvetica, Arial or Optima for your slides. Avoid the fancy script fonts at all cost – they are unreadable on the big screens. Also, use larger font sizes on your slides. Your slide presentations are no place for small print – leave small print to the legal department.
7. Use Bullet Points Wisely – Bullet points are designed to summarize your thoughts and you use the spoken word for more detail or explanations. Use no more than five to six bullet points with 3 to 4 being better for effectiveness. Also, an extra tip here – use builds or animations to show one bullet point at a time as you speak to the point. It keeps the audience focused upon each point as it is delivered rather than speculating on future points.
8. Use Charts and Graphs – Rather than show a spreadsheet no one can read from the audience, use a visual element such as a chart or graph to reflect the data. Sense 70% of people are visual today and rely upon visual clues for understanding, charts and graphs provide their answers. Use the graphs to show changes or trends and then discuss the reasons or effects of the trend.
9. Use Photos and Pictures – One of the best uses of “a picture speaks a thousand words” was an inventory management company had taken a picture of a customer’s actual production line with all the inventory stacked everywhere and using photoshop had taken out the stacks of inventory, cleared space and then placed their inventory binds in the picture. These pictures closed the deal since the customer was able to visually understand what was being offered and how it would impact their production line and their bottom line. That is how you can use pictures and photos to personalize the slide presentation for your customer.
10. Make a Presentation Check List – You have done all the work on the slide presentation, now the tricky part – do you have everything you need for the presentation? Do you have any special adaptors between your computer and the presentation projector? (MAC users – you will need your VGA or DVI adapters) Do you have a wireless slide show advance tool? ( Never keep moving to the computer to hit the space bar or page forward key unless the battery dies on your wireless tool.) Oh, spare batteries and if you are using your own projector system – do you have a spare lamp? It does not hurt to have your slide presentation on a thumb drive or a CD-rom in case there are unique situations requiring you to transfer your presentation to another computer or system.
There you have Ten Tips for Effective Sales Presentations using slide show presentations. Use this list as a guide for creating your slide presentations. And, if you are an experienced presenter – check to make sure you are current. One on the pitfalls of experience is to stop learning or improving our skills or understanding of what is best today. Enjoy your presentations and make them fun for you and your customer.