10 Hacks To Build A Great PowerPoint Presentation

Surprisingly Easy PowerPoint HacksDo you have Slideshare envy? Where so many of the presentations clearly are designed by graphic artists and the presentations are beautiful?

In the business world, of course, we don’t have the luxury of building a deck that is completely graphic. Our presentations have to deliver everything from our business vision to product pricing without the benefit of a designer to build our decks.

Not having a designer is no excuse for a terrible presentation

Not having a designer is no excuse for a terrible presentationYour presentations are a reflection of you and your company. Want to instantly lose credibility? Share a presentation that is dense with words, in different fonts and full of misspellings. No matter how good you are on your feet, you’ll leave your audience with a poor impression.

A lot of people tell me tell me that PowerPoint sucks. I think they are shooting the messenger but maybe they are right because – unfortunately – PowerPoint doesn’t write the presentation for us.

One sales vp told me that that she’d rather have her buyer looking at her products instead of a slide. Her point is well taken but a well-crafted PowerPoint presentation can frame the conversation, document the meeting and set-up key questions. Not surprisingly, the more presentations we built together, the more she wanted to use PowerPoint because of how the buyers were responding.

What makes a GREAT PowerPoint presentation?

  1. Presentation Success With These PowerPoint HacksKeep it short – a good rule of thumb is 1 slide for every 2 minutes of presentation time
  2. Give your slides (and message) a personality that runs through the entire presentation
  3. Tell a story, don’t just dump data
  4. Connect with the pain point of your audience and share your solution on how you will solve it
  5. Use photos to help bring your message to life or embed video to help communicate more robustly
  6. Use short bullets to convey the idea – don’t write a book or a script to read
  7. Don’t be afraid of color or a larger font to make a key point
  8. Don’t get cute –animation sounds and slide transitions are very distracting. Keep the focus on you and your message
  9. Don’t use busy backgrounds and design templates
  10. Be ruthless and consistent. Every slide should make a critical point and all the slides should present information in the same way

PowerPoint Hacks For Better PresentationA word of advice: practice with your presentation beforehand. You’ll feel more confident, know when and how to address each slide and it will help you consider the order of your slides more carefully. No one can follow a presenter who’s flipping slides forward and backwards to try and show something addressed later in the presentation.

It’s going too far to say a great presentation makes the sale but it uses the same components – a compelling story backed with strong proof points and powerful visuals – that you and the sales team use to build your business.

Good Selling!


Are You Bending The Research To Make Your Case?

Don't Be A Loser With These PowerPoint Design Hacks

As Mark Twain so famously said, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”

Sometimes you know you have the right answer, so you work the research results to tell the story you know will sell the company on your program.

You risk being wrong, big time

The new product line was failing. The POS wasn’t meeting anyone’s expectations yet the consumer research not only validated the product concept but the follow-up research supported the marketing strategies implemented. What the heck was going on?

“We want it out or fixed”

The customer bought into the product concept. In fact, we brought the research to life in the presentations we were making. We had pictures of focus groups and shop-alongs. We put quotes into the slides that consumers had about our new product and marketing plans.

But once the product was launched, shoppers weren’t buying. And our retail partner was blunt and to the point.  The product needed to be fixed or we were going to be off the shelf.

Back to the drawing board

Don't Get Told No With These PowerPoint Sales HacksTruth was we inherited this new product from another team, so we weren’t steeped in the decisions that led to the ultimate marketing strategies.  That meant we were digging in with fresh eyes. This was the first of our insights: fresh eyes mean you see things differently.

The product concept was developed carefully and methodically. It was a home run in research from concept through production prototypes.  So we knew that the actual product wasn’t the issue. That quickly suggested the marketing was off base.

We pulled up the product presentations and reviewed what we had promised and the support we offered as a reason to believe. The case looked air-tight.  Then we decided to actually look at the original research. This was our second significant insight: go back to the data and make sure you aren’t drinking your own marketing Kool-Aid.

The PowerPoint slide had become the research

focus groupWhat we found was both shocking and perhaps expected since you know how poorly the product line was doing. The research done was qualitative and obviously subject to interpretation. And it was done with only 20 people. You read that right…the marketing for a nationwide product roll-out to a big box retailer was built on the input of 20 shoppers from that chain.

But that wasn’t our biggest gripe. Rather, three distinct themes in the research emerged. Two of them contradicted the product manager’s view of how to go to market. One aligned beautifully. The PowerPoint obviously played to that theme and no other point of view was introduced. The PowerPoint slide “became” the research and that was fatal flaw.

While there should have been some checks and balances on this project, we were able to see that the contrary positions held the right answer (after all, we knew what didn’t work).

Predictably, the end of the story is we fixed the marketing and the product line became success. And burned into our marketing philosophy is that we repeatedly return to the original research and never, ever, let the PowerPoint slide become the research.

Let us know if this has ever happened to you!

Good Selling!