Sales presentations and the science of the slideshow

Powerpoint presentations are a very common way to bolster your verbal presentation and, when used properly, can give an exceptional boost to your audience’s engagement with the material. sales presentations can be hard-going at the best of times, but good Powerpoint design can provide extra details, snare the attention of listeners in danger of tuning out, and provide a critical second strand of information. Consequently, this is one skill it’s worth acquiring – or buying in from an external consultancy if you don’t have the confidence to do it well in-house.

The reason Powerpoint and other visual presentations are so worthwhile is that some people simply do not respond well to the spoken word. Each of us understands a presentation in our own unique way and, for one reason or another, we may not take on board much of the material in a talk. There is a rule that some people are auditory learners – they engage well with the spoken word – whereas others are visual (and others kinaesthetic – that is, they respond to activity, rather than seeing or hearing). Of course, each of us is a mixture of these aspects rather than employing one alone. However, the reality remains that a large proportion of us may not digest well information that is delivered orally. Backing up a spoken-word presentation with a visual one caters to these types.

Therein lies one potential problem of Powerpoint, however. It is all too easy to duplicate content on the screen – in the worst cases, merely repeating the spoken presentation verbatim with a set of slides. This is both distracting to the audience and insulting to their intelligence. A better strategy is to complement, not copy. A picture speaks a thousand words, and charts and photos can supply helpful background information that cannot concisely be given by the speaker. Moreover, information presented this way is far more accessible than written words, in that it is far richer in content.

Powerpoint design can therefore contribute a great deal to your sales presentations and other events. The catch is to do it properly, since bad Powerpoint design will actually detract from your delivery, rather than just not adding very much. Dedicated companies offer training in how to put together a convincing slideshow – one that will engage your audience and complement your speech. Alternatively, you can simply farm out this aspect of your presentation and get an expert to put it together for you.

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