Getting the most from PowerPoint -Get decisions and sales to go your way
21 Sep 2012
Making a winning impression by tailoring your presentations to your audience
Having prepared and delivered presentations, including using Powerpoint for diverse audiences throughout the UK over the last 25 or so years, I have learnt something from my good and bad attempts. Much of this comes from audience reactions and feedback during and after the presentations I give.
“Excellent presentations require focussed preparation”
I delivered a presentation to an important prospective client recently whom I’d never met before nor used their products or knew any of their people – during the Q&A at the end this is what they asked me: “Do you know our people?”, “Have you work with us before?” , “Have you used our products and processes?” When I answered no, I was told that it seemed like I knew the company, as if I was already on the inside. They said the presentation was excellent. I didn’t get it right by chance, I prepared, and in a specific way.
From personal experience I have found that there are three levels of PowerPoint usage for the busy sales/account presenter:-
- The generic slide deck to cover all audiences which has all of your general and detailed information (I will discuss how to utilise this effectively and in preparation in another blog).
- The modified slide deck (using the generic slides), for a specific audience, where you only bring in what is needed (used at short notice or when it does the job of providing the information).
- The tailored slide deck – if you really want to succeed – then time invested on this preparation is well worth it. This article will focus here.
So here are my top tips to get your presentations into a winning shape:
Whilst obvious I am always surprised at how presenters miss some of these important aspects out of their talks.
- Identify key messages that you need to get across to your audience
- Think about the mindset and concerns of your audience – What is your audiences mindset? Wwhat is their view of your type of service?
- Discover and think about the concerns of your audience – what concerns does your audience have that might put them off of your product or proposal?
- Give a general overview of your products – some people like to see the bigger picture of how things fit in.
- Relate your products to the audience industry or situation – remember the presentation is not for you, it’s for the people in the audience.
- Make it as easy as possible for your audience to access your product or service. Are there any requirements, and ideal conditions and how you can help them get ready.
- Create tailor-made examples which fit precisely your audience’s environment or culture. Ask yourself, “How would I make my product or service work with this audience/company etc?
- Use their language. Do some research on their technical language, find out what is important for them. For example, if you are selling insurance products as an employee benefit to a Human Resources audience, perhaps highlight ‘staff satisfaction with the employer’, ‘staff retention’, ‘long term commitment to the firm’ etc. Make it as easy as possible for your audience to thing, “Yes, that will work for me!”, or “I can take that back to my team/boss/ business partner, as it will help us!”
- Solve problems. Try to empathise and get into their mindset – think about what problems and issues your product or service can solve and also what benefits it can bring.
- Make the change from slide to slide easy to follow – think in terms of visual impact, (which I will be discussing in another blog) it helps to have consistency in style and layout, even when adding new information or images. If your slides have no consistent style, people will need more time to adjust to each new slide, before they can hear your message. So, be consistent in the main layout of titles and positioning.
- Always have a text back up in large print for people who find a slide deck hard to see or for hard of hearing . These check needs to be done before the day of presentation.
- A PowerPoint is not the main visual aid, you are. But if you are going to use it, make sure it is as good as can possibly be. Don’t apologise for a poorly laid out Powerpoint presentation. Do say you are not familiar with using a Powerpoint presentation, if that is the case. Also useful if you are nervous about the presentation.
- Emotional and psychological aspects – I like to try and think about how my audience might be thinking about a subject, and I also like to think about how my audience might be reacting to what I say. That way I can build more useful ideas into the presentation. This in turn helps make a connection with the audience.
- A Powerpoint or indeed any kind of visual aid presentation does not excuse you of generating audience participation and interaction. You are the front man/woman , so ensure you stay in control. You are in the foreground, and PPT should almost always be in the background.
- Have a call to action – what exactly do you want them to do next, whether it is to seek a decision, toget a planning meeting with their decision makers, or to contact you complete a booking form etc.
The saying about interviews goes for presentations too – You have 10 minutes to talk yourself out of a sale or positive decision– don’t let that happen!