The best PowerPoint presentations will serve to simply convince your audience of your ideas.
It’s that simple and you can dress it up with as many fancy words and phrases as you wish and of course the almost customary, color-uncoordinated designs which seem to be the norm with the presentations I have reviewed over my business career.
Presentations are produced for a variety of reasons and in my case, I have been producing them for raising finance, selling to customers; using them to support speaking engagements, and reviewing other people’s presentations from an investment and a business coaching perspective.
And I am not ashamed to tell you that I have made the same mistake with my own presentations over the years involving those over-complicated, fancy, and way too wordy, way too many slides.
It’s was a tough learning curve as I went through the laborious process of trial and error, so I have put together some tips for you to help you avoid the mistakes that I and many others have made.
I am dealing primarily with sales presentations here and creating the best PowerPoint presentations is not easy and it requires some work…but it will ultimately make a huge difference in your overall sales performance.
And the same principles apply to whatever type of presentation you are creating whether you are trying to convince an audience of your ideas, or raising the next round of finance for your business.
As with everything these days, there is a huge amount of information out there concerning how to deliver the best PowerPoint presentations, and a lot of it, in my opinion, only adds to the confusion.
Take a look at some presentation examples in this article from Hubspot to get a few ideas from some good presentations, but I also want to advise you not to worry too much about how others present, rather find your own style and make sure that you clearly articulate your company’s value proposition and keep in mind the following:
- Less is definitely more
- Use simple, uncomplicated language and no “corporate or management speak”
- Keep your audience engaged
- Use multi-media
- Keep it short, sweet, and to the point
Nobody wants to sit through a long-winded presentation that rambles and tells people how great the company presenting is, so make sure you don’t fall into that trap — talk about and directly to your customer; show that you understand their problems and make sure that you clearly show how your company can help.
I’ve already talked about how to create interesting PowerPoint presentations, so now let’s get on to helping you to make them the best.
Best PowerPoint presentations: Research
The fundamental secret to a great presentation is to make sure you do your homework and this has made so much difference in the quality and success of my own presentations over the years and also a well-researched presentation is one people will pay way more attention to.
But we are not just talking about scrolling through your customer’s website to regurgitate information, we are talking about interpreting information and forming opinions, uncovering problems, identifying trends, and developing strategies.
The company’s website is just one source of information.
Yes, you will be using your customer’s own words in your presentation because you will demonstrate that you understand their commercial language, but ultimately you need to be able to blend their information with your own just like a fine chef blends the ingredients for a Michelin-starred meal!
The process I recommend is as follows and you have to adjust/add questions as appropriate to the size and type of the company you are presenting to, but here are some ideas:
- Go through the website of the company and make notes concerning their key customer messages
- Understand their mission, vision, and company values
- Look at the financial performance and how they are predicting future performance
- Look at the problems, risks, and challenges they face and their risk management strategy
- Check out the profiles of the executive leadership team and look at their social media accounts and activities
- Look for any interviews on the web and don’t restrict yourself to the leadership team
- Make sure that you fully understand the “commercial commitments” of your customer…or their “deliverables”
One of the biggest problems I see in business is the overall lack of commercial understanding and awareness of business owners and entrepreneurs.
No matter what business you are operating and regardless of your sector, you must remember that you are in a commercial world.
Create the best PowerPoint presentation for your customer!
Your next job is to prepare a comprehensive and detailed presentation about your customer.
This is absolutely the opposite you need to do with your own presentation…at least for the introductory part, but you absolutely should do this for your customer version so that you make sure you have a full understanding of their business, challenges, and problems, which you should have anyway if you are keeping up-to-date with your research in general.
And this customer presentation will be very specific to the sales situation that you are in.
This is the best way to really dig deep and understand precisely what you are trying to accomplish and also it will provide a temporary diversion away from the headache that you may feel when creating your own presentation…for the time being anyway!
The goal of this presentation is to present the facts about your customer as if you were going to explain their business to your bosses (if you have any) and your colleagues, so you should write it with enthusiasm, emotion and make sure that you articulate the facts.
In some cases, I have had members of my team write fantastic presentations in this manner because the pressure is taken away from them — they will talk with authority about their customer because they have a vested interest in them and will be proud to engage and enthuse their colleagues with the information.
The best PowerPoint presentations are the best rehearsed and prepared
For me personally, I loved the research element of business and learning as much about my customers, both existing and potential as possible.
It gave me some kind of psychological advantage knowing that I had put a lot of work into something that I pretty much knew my competitors would not…and when I created presentations about my customers, it felt like I was actually representing them and embedding information that I knew would serve me well later.
Don’t skip this step and remember…knowledge is power and you have also created a great reference point for the future because it’s good to look back and see how your customer sales journey has progressed over time.
Prepare your first draft
Keep your detailed customer presentation to one side for the moment because now you have to flip your thoughts and creativity to your own presentation, which you want to be specific, personalized, and to the point.
Here are some ideas for you and don’t try to be creative at this point:
- Create a simple template and use a plain background
- Use simple bullet-points on each slide
- Create text slides and then visuals — don’t worry about combining them at this stage
- Use simple graphs, charts, and infographics where possible
- Don’t worry about the number of slides — you are looking to see how powerful your statements, messages, and words are when they stand alone and on single slides
- Keep the focus on your value proposition statement
It’s amazing what you can come up with when you follow this simple procedure, rather than trying to make a Hollywood-style first draft of a customer presentation and it gives you a formula that you can use for the rest of your presentation life!
If you are writing your first presentation, you will develop good habits and if you are a seasoned presenter, you may start to re-think your process — I learned that each word, each sentence, and each statement must be meaningful and as “absolute” as possible.
Every time I write a presentation (and I wrote one with a company I am advising just last night), I will come up with something different and worthwhile, no matter what I have written before.
It’s about making continual progress and never standing still — I use some of the same phrases I wrote twenty years ago and I also cringe at others written at the same time…but I am continually evolving as are my presentations.
Over time, you will find certain words, phrases, and images that are timeless…so keep using them — there is no PowerPoint “fashion police,” not yet anyway!
Now you are ready to take the next step and put the two together.
Putting it all together
You now have two very distinct presentations and now you have to create the masterpiece which is a combination of both.
The entire exercise should have stirred the creative pot inside you and also brought to light some key points relating to why you are presenting to your customer in the first place.
The golden rule here is to build the presentation from the customer’s perspective and start the entire presentation by talking about your customer and their problems.
Please don’t make the mistake of starting the deck with your own achievements and information about your company and remember the purpose of the presentation.
I like to use the introductory slide to set the scene and I would place both my log and my customer’s logo on the slide, with a key message from my customer which came from the research and that was relevant to the business at hand.
Now, you have to take all of those bullet-points and visuals you have created and start to build them into the presentation, but only after identifying the problems first.
Identify the problem
On the next slide after the introduction, I would talk about the problem and the key problems your customer is facing and on the next slide, you can talk about the implications of the problem.
Some people monetize this aspect, but that depends on how well you know your customer and I always think it is better not to ram the problems and implications of those problems down your customer’s throat, especially in a presentation that could be circulated to anyone in the organization.
It is far better to infer what could happen.
How do you help?
Now you have to succinctly tell your customer exactly how you can help them — don’t go overboard here, just stick to the facts and use bullet points and visuals that are simple to understand and not clouded with corporate-speak and unnecessary jargon.
Too many companies go crazy at this stage and believe “more is better.”
Don’t fall into the trap!
Give a brief overview of your processes
You’ve explained how you help, so now explain what you do in terms of processes, procedures, and quality control to help your customer understand the “why” part of why they should choose you.
Again, keep it simple and make sure you stick to the high-level and basic points that clearly articulate the methodology you use to provide your value.
Time to offer some proof, if of course, you have any.
Many start-ups tell me that this phase is difficult, but you have to give your potential customer some reassurance.
If you have testimonials then use them — got some hard data?
And if you have nothing because you are just starting out and trying to land your first deal, then talk about your own experience and successes that have helped previous customers in your previous job role.
Value proposition statement
Finish the statement with your value proposition — many companies start with this and for me, it takes the attention away from your target audience…your customer and by finishing the presentation with it, you will end on a strong note.
Best PowerPoint presentations: Supporting slides
Depending on your business, you will probably have a lot more supporting information to provide.
In my own companies and before I understood the better way to construct presentations, I would put together huge decks of information to make sure that I missed nothing out concerning what I was trying to offer.
It was a huge mistake.
By learning to carve up my presentations, I could use the same introductory deck for all clients (personalized, of course) and then customize the rest of the deck to each individual customer.
This is where your charts and other visuals really come into play and where you can provide solid data to back up your initial words and claims that you made in the introductory slides.
Keeping your presentations short and sweet serve to get the attention of your audience — then you have to go into detail as to why your customers should be buying from you.
I love putting together short, sweet and disruptive presentations and if you need any help or advice on the subject, then please get in touch with me.
Last modified: February 2, 2021