How To Use PowerPoint During Sales Presentations

Using PowerPoint during group sales presentations is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. But how you use it, is something else.

The person giving the presentation is center stage not the PowerPoint slides, which is often the case. Your PowerPoint slides should reinforce your presentation – it should not be your presentation.

You know, I do a lot of keynote speeches and sales training programs for corporate America. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been bored to tears by somebody’s presentation. It makes me want to itch!

Look, I didn’t wake up in a bad mood today. I was just reading an article in Entrepreneur Magazine about a venture capitalist guy named Guy Kawasaki whose reaction to PowerPoint presentations is just like my own.

So it got me thinking. I thought I’d put together some do’s and don’ts to help you, just in case you’re committing any of these faux pas’s.

Don’t darken the room – it really can put some people to sleep.

Don’t fall in love with your technology. You don’t need glitzy transitions between every slide.

Don’t fill up every slide. Less can actually be more.

Don’t have sentences that build one after another, and another, and another. It literally drives people crazy when presenters do this.

Don’t walk in front of the projector and cast a humongous shadow on the screen.

Don’t use a small font size. If people can’t see it from the back of the room it doesn’t belong on a slide. Use a handout!

Don’t use a dark background color on your slides.

Don’t use too many slides and make too many points.

Don’t keep your slides on the screen during your entire presentation. It becomes a distraction. There’s a better way – keep reading.

On the other hand here’s a short list of things you should do.

Do turn on all room lights.

Do use a white background color for your PowerPoint sales presentation slides.

Do hit the period key on your keyboard to darken the screen in between slides.

Do hit the period key on your keyboard when you want to show your next slide.

Do move around a little so your audience doesn’t get the impression you’re tethered to the podium or anything else in front of the room.

Do follow Guy Kawasaki’s recommendation of 10/20/30. Keep reading.

Do use no more than 10 slides. Focus on what you want people to remember. You can make it stick if you use fewer and better slides.

Do set aside 20 minutes for showing your 10 slides. People have shorter attention spans today.

Do use a font size no smaller than 30 points. Bigger fonts lead the way to making better points.

Do be brief and to the point when you’re making your key selling points.

Do have a sales conversation with your audience by asking them for their reaction to your key points.

Make your next PowerPoint sales presentation a more powerful one by using fewer PowerPoints!

And don’t overwhelm your audience with nauseating details.

Always leave them wanting more.

Everything in Life is Negotiable

My best guess is that you and most people you know are uncomfortable with “formal” negotiations for several reasons. First, you do not believe that negotiating is a natural event. Formal negotiations tend to be viewed from the perspective that the only possible outcome from a negotiation is that one party “wins” and the other party “loses”.

What appears to be so ominous to many people is something they probably do not realize is part of their everyday life. In fact, all of us are involved in negotiations of one sort or another throughout the day and the night at work and at home. At work, you are negotiating with other employees, with your bosses, with other departments, with customers, etc. At home, you are negotiating with other members of the family. Some people even negotiate with their pets.

Look around and observe what’s going on around you during the course of the day. You’ll soon realize that negotiating is taking place everywhere, and that it is an integral part of everyday life.

My approach to negotiating is based on two premises:
1. Everything in life is negotiable
2. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

Think about how often you’ve walked into a store, picked out an item, gone to the checkout counter and paid the price shown on the ticket. Not every time, but in many cases, you’ve left something on the table. Had you negotiated, you really could have done better. Just because there is a price tag on an item does not mean that you have to accept it. You’re probably shaking your head right about now and saying “Yeah right” I’ll just walk into a store and tell the sales person that their price is too high and I want a better price.

Before you laugh too hard, next time you go into a store, keep the following points in mind:
o You are the customer
o The sales person wants to make a sale
o Your money will spend anywhere
o There are competitors’ stores offering the same merchandise
o You need to be convinced as to why you should purchase the item from the store you’re in as opposed to somewhere else.

If the salesperson and possibly the store manager do not understand the situation from your perspective, they need to be made aware of your thought process in a gentle way. In other words, you need to try and get them to understand that if they do not in some way satisfy you, you probably will take your money somewhere else to get a better deal. You really do not have to hit them over the head with a hammer to get them to understand that you are the customer, and that the potential for making —-or losing — the sale is in their hands.

3 Essentials to Developing Powerful Presentations – Part 2

Powerful presentations are vital to building your credibility when communicating with colleagues, senior leaders, board members, clients, or staff. In Part 1 of this article, I focused on the preparation phase, and action steps that need to be taken in advance to ensure success. The next two phases include the presentation itself, and feedback to refine your skills following the presentation.

Presentation (Your Delivery during the Meeting)

It’s OK to be nervous. However, the best way to overcome nervousness is to be prepared and know your topic better than anyone else. Eventually the nerves will subside.

Speak clearly and with confidence. Pace yourself, so as not to speak too fast or too slow – because both drive audiences crazy. If you have difficulty enunciating certain words, do not use them. Also, be careful not to speak in a monotone manner; it will put people to sleep.

Be mindful of your body language. A genuine smile is a great way to warm a group up, so be very conscientious of your facial expressions throughout your presentation. Your body language should be relaxed to convey confidence, and throughout your presentation be sure to scan the room with positive eye contact and a periodic smile. If your eyes focus solely on your presentation notes or the PowerPoint slides on the projection screen throughout the entire presentation you will lose the audience, and you will not be able to assess whether they are embracing your message or are board stiff. Also be extremely mindful of your posture and hand gestures. Remember, not only is the audience listening to you – but they are also looking at you.

Make your presentation memorable. Start with a strong opening, typically interesting facts and figures are a good way to get the audience stirred, or with a little taste of humor. Next, make sure you have an impactful middle — this is where your knowledge and expertise of the subject matter will make all of the difference. Don’t lose the audience with too many big words, but at the same time don’t talk down to the audience. There is a fine line between a presenting your information with confidence and finesse, and totally missing an opportunity to “wow” your audience. Prior to closing your presentation, allow a few minutes to take a few questions. And, if asked a question that you cannot answer, don’t fake it. Respond appropriately indicating that you will find out and get back with them a.s.a.p. Most important, end with a memorable closing, usually a great supporting quote helps round off your presentation.

Walk the room. When presenting to small groups, using the opportunity to walk around the room is extremely effective. Periodically gaze across the entire room, using positive eye contact and smiling as often as possible to convey a sense of confidence. Of course, walking the ballroom is not effective if you are presenting to a large group in the 100′s because then everyone cannot see you. In these instances, stay on the stage or at the front of the room, periodically pacing from one side to the other to keep everyone’s attention. When presenting to large groups, I always prefer and request a wireless microphone for this very reason.

Be mindful of the time. If there is a clock in the room, periodically glance at it to ensure you stay within your allotted timeframe. I have been in meetings where the speaker went over their allocated time and participants started leaving. My suggestion, respect people’s time. That’s why handouts are so helpful. If you are running out of time, you can always advise participants to review the handouts later for more details.

Feedback for Refinement (After the Meeting)

Solicit audience feedback. The manner in which you solicit feedback depends on the audience you are presenting to. When I’m facilitating a training workshop, I always handout participant feedback forms. When I am presenting to small groups, I usually speak with the meeting planner afterwards to get their feedback on the effectiveness of my presentation and suggestions for improvement.

Use feedback to improve your skills. It’s tough accepting constructive criticism and feedback when you have worked so hard preparing for a presentation or to facilitate a training workshop. However, you must take it all in stride and use what you learn to improve your presentation style. If you continue to hear the same criticism over-and-over again (you use your hands to much, you pace too much, you let the audience take control too much, you didn’t use eye contact with the audience, etc.) then it is a chronic blind-spot that you need to work on eliminating. It’s OK to be sensitive, but use this type of feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow over time. When you begin to hear the same criticisms less over time, you’ll know that you have mastered them.

In closing, my list of tips for a powerful presentation is not all inclusive. However, hopefully it has gotten your creative juices going and in the future you will consider some of these tips to improve your presentation skills. There hundred of other tips to help you improve. I give hundreds of presentations each year, but I still review books and other self-help resources to refine my skills. Believe me, your first, second, or maybe even fiftieth presentation will not be perfect – but the more you do over time the more confident you will become.