TTG Article Good Presentations for Effective Selling

Killer Sales Presentations – Kill the competition not the audience!

Microsoft believes that there are 300 million users of PowerPoint giving one million presentations a day. The vast majority are with a blue background and bullet-points with white text, more commonly known as ‘Death by PowerPoint'.

Usually presentations are too long and fail to hold the audience’s attention. Why is this? Why does the audience switch off, or worse, fall asleep? Is it purely because they are dull and boring?

Of the thousands of presentations I have seen, nearly all of them are just:
- Decks of slides containing lists of bullet points and text
- Written for the presenter’s benefit
- A tick sheet or a cue card to make sure nothing is left out

And the irony is that they are supposed to be for the benefit of the audience !!.

Most presentations are also too long and lack structure. The attention span of an audience is 20 - 30 minutes and they will make their decision to pay attention or not within the first few minutes. The killer slide is usually the last, or the penultimate slide. It tends to be a list of features, not explicit benefits, and if the audience has already switched off it has come too late.

The charisma of the presenter to retain the audience’s attention is considered key, but in reality while the presenter believes they are firing key bullet points, they are only firing blanks.

Great presentations require a paradigm shift. When constructing presentations, design and structure them from the audience’s perspective, never use bullets and text again, and always keep them within 20-30 minutes’ duration.

Pictures, not words – Why?
A picture paints a thousand words. Yet the world is pre-occupied with populating PowerPoint with text, and Excel spreadsheets that nobody can read. Good presentations have images that help explain points, diagrams that bring clarity to arguments, and photographs that add value to the message.

Bad presentations have:
- Clip Art
- Text so small that it cannot be read.
- Distracting and annoying effects, i.e. words flying in with the sound of a type-
  writer or screeching tyres.

Does this sound familiar?

Picture not words – How?
Think about the message and then think about how to draw a picture to help people understand this message. The basis of a good slide starts on paper with a pencil and a rubber.

Engage the audience, don’t bore them – Why?
Bored audiences struggle to stay awake. If they cannot pay attention, they will not remember the points made. In that case, why bother presenting at all?

Engage the audience don’t bore them – How?
Most presentations contain slides that are self-explanatory and, because the audience can read seven times faster that the presenter can articulate, the presenter becomes an irritation and a nuisance factor.

Slides should not make sense until they are explained by the presenter. This forces the audience to listen to the presenter because they need to in order to understand precisely what is being communicated. This is the most powerful technique I know and it is called Visual Cognitive Dissonance - a complicated way of saying ‘great presentation.’

Slides should not make sense until they are explained clearly. The manner in which a slide reveals can also engage the audience. It is far more effective to present diagrams and pictures that build or reveal elements on the click of a mouse; a massive boon to those devoted to ensuring audiences receive and understand messages in presentations.

Change your perspective
In summary, I believe that business presentations are about imparting knowledge, convincing people to share a point of view or make a buying decision, not making people laugh. Presentations need to be designed to get information across to the audience without distracting or confusing them.

The most valuable advice I can give is this: stop writing presentations that cue the presenter. The point of a presentation is not to help the presenter get through the information, it is to help the audience comprehend, and retain, the information conveyed.

This article was contributed by Ray Bigger. Ray is the founder and managing director of Think8, a leading coaching, consulting and training company headquartered in Singapore and a director of Hospitality Strategies Asia Pacific. Ray has more than 25 years of sales, marketing, people and team development experience. Ray is a former English Premier League and Football League Referee.

Email: Ray@Think8.Net
Tel: (65) 6875-0104

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