Nothing kills a sales presentation (or any presentation) more than pages and pages of slides with lots of bullets and text.
You are about 10 minutes into a sales presentation by company XYZ. The presenter brings up a slide that has three bullets on it. The presenter starts talking about those bullets,
but your mind is already taking the short route and reading the bullets. While the presenter drones on in the background, you immediately see where he is going. You are done with the slide, but the presenter is still in the process of talking through the first bullet point. You are ready to move on, but he isn’t so you tune out.
The whole idea of a sales presentation is to allow your audience to see themselves in the vision you create.
A vision is a visual mechanism. Bullets with words are a verbal mechanism. How easy is it for your audience to see themselves in a vision painted by bullets?
I love to board talk my presentations. When I board talk my presentations, I carefully select my most compelling concepts and create a flow from one point to another. More importantly, I interact with my audience in a way that builds a visual that not only draws in but includes the audience. No wonder board talks are so effective. They help build that personalized vision for the audience.
Achieving this same experience is a lot more difficult to do with a PowerPoint presentation. But we can leverage board talk techniques which will help us create more compelling visuals for our canned PowerPoint presentations.
Rule #1: Prioritize your concepts by the impact you expect them to have on your audience. Use only the most compelling ones.
To do this effectively, the marketer has to go beyond the words and really understand the impact of the ideas he/she is trying to communicate. In our example, there are three competing ideas being communicated. Chances are by focusing on one, the audience can extrapolate the other two. Do you really need to call out all three? Isn’t one impactful concept better remembered than three equally boring marketing claims?
Rule #2: Develop the flow of your main concepts by focusing on contrasts.
Contrast compares the before and the after. It is typified by movement of some sort. It helps you define flow. By understanding the underlying contrast in your main concept, you start to focus on the visual idea to support it.
In our example, contrast adds details. Low customer retention means that a business is constantly striving to add new customers to replace customers who are leaving. It is like a zero sum game. Improved customer retention means that a business is building momentum in the marketplace. More and more customers are being exposed to the product and signing on.
Rule #3: Identify the visualization that will illustrate your concept in a way that ensures the impact you want to achieve.
There are many ways to visualize concepts. Rule #3 asks you to choose a visualization that is dynamic. If we used a static graph in our example, you would never create the emotional feel of the momentum that customer retention can achieve. By using animation to build the visual bit by bit, you start creating the feel of that momentum.
Putting the 3 Rules Together
The secret of using these three rules is that you are creating a mini-story around a critical concept you want to communicate. This mini-story allows the audience to engage with the concept. It helps them build an emotional crescendo that leads to the “aha moment”.
The final product of using these rules is the combination of story and visual that begins with the before. Both develop and build together until they reach the climax. That climax is the point of maximum conceptual impact. You repeat this for slide after slide after slide.