Picture Perfect PowerPoint: Presentations that Sell

When it comes to putting together the PowerPoint slides for sales presentations, presenters usually sit down and type in everything they want to say. When it’s all there in black and white, they pass their slides on to a colleague or team member who will also share the stage. That person adds a few slides–making sure to include all the text, all the graphs, all the charts, and all the bullet points they don’t want to forget.

But that’s not all. Marketing is alerted and they send you a few more essential slides. Then your manager reminds you to please include the one you used last summer at the meeting that everyone loved. Before you know it, you’ve got a presentation that grew like Topsy–without consistency, without flair, and without a coherent message.

PowerPoint slides are a visual aid intended to support your oral delivery–not to replace it. Good slides are good pictures. They are a visual representation of what you are saying, attractive to look at and easy to understand just by glancing at them. They are an enhancement, a simplification or an addition. They don’t require interpretation, explanation or reading.

A presentation is a performance and you are the star. Your slides should help you tell your story–not tell your story for you. That means you must cull your slides; eliminate all but the most essential. Any slide that is just a bunch of text must go. Any slide you’ve included “just in case” must be discarded. Delete any slide that needs a long explanation, a slow read or a magnifying glass. If you must include some text, eliminate full sentences and use key words only. Use bullets sparingly and make sure they are grammatically parallel.

The fact is, you are the presentation; your slides are not. If everything you want to say is on your slides, you lose your animation, your spontaneity and your ability to connect with your audience. What’s worse, your audience loses you–so you lose the sale.

Of course, it’s important to pick an appealing background and here are some suggestions to help you get it right.

Professional tips for high-impact slides:

  • choose a dark color–never use a white background
  • look for a background image that adds dimension and depth to the screen
  • use pictures that are a metaphor for your message
  • photoshop an appropriate image and use it as background for the whole slide–not as a little insert
  • use the biggest font you can–72 points is best, 36 points is minimum
  • don’t use cheesy clipart images
  • aim for consistency–pictures that help you tell a coherent story
  • get professional help or buy professional images when professionalism is important to you.

Too many people spoil a potentially good presentation with too many words. Good slides are simply an artistic visual that captures your words in a compelling image. Just picture it. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Author, consultant, trainer and coach, Fern Lebo is also president of FrontRunner Communications, adjunct faculty at Auburn University and a frequent keynote speaker. A respected communications expert, Lebo focuses on presentation and writing for sales. For nearly 20 years, she has helped Fortune 500 companies create and deploy star sales performers. When it comes to reinventing a sales presentation, Lebo’s clients master the professional techniques they need to win. Find out more at http://FRcommunications.com


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