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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

10 Tips for Creating PowerPoint Presentations That Don’t Put Prospects to Sleep


Slide presentations are supposed to help salespeople make sales. However, if they are poorly designed, slide presentations can drive sales away. A slow-moving, confusing, lackluster and lengthy PowerPoint is hard to endure — buyers will assume if they buy anything from you, they’ll be in for more of the same as long as the relationship continues.

On the other hand, an engaging and enlightening PowerPoint establishes you as efficient, expert, and tuned in to the customer’s needs. In other words, it will bring you closer to a sale. Here are 10 ways to make your presentations stand above the competition. 

1. Explain the Value Proposition

Begin by explaining what the audience will gain after seeing the presentation. This answers the very important question: Why am I here?

2. Give an Overview

Next, give the audience a high-level summary of what will be covered. This provides context. Without context, the audience may not understand how all the pieces fit together as you go through the slides. 

3. Keep Text to a Minimum

Reading verbatim from a slide is one of the most boring experiences on earth. Speak extemporaneously or from notes, but only use text to highlight key phrases or single words that capture the essence of each important idea. This not only keeps the audience engaged, it also improves retention. 

4. Use Graphics Wisely

Graphics should serve a purpose, not be mere decorations. Charts and graphs are superb for conveying data, but they must be simple and comprehensible. Test them on a trial audience before going live, to make sure the ideas are coming across loud and clear.

5. One or Two Major Ideas Per Slide

Trying to keep presentations “short” by packing 20 ideas into each slide is a recipe for boredom. Instead, keep each slide focused on one or two ideas. If the presentation turns out to be, say, 100 slides long, the answer is not to condense the number of slides, but to condense the overall content or break it up into multiple presentations. 

6. Keep Design Templates Simple

Trying to jazz up presentations with rainbow-colored, busy page designs only serves to confuse and possibly annoy the audience. Instead, keep designs as simple as you can, leaving plenty of white space. As with website pages, white space in presentations conveys expertise and efficiency. 

7. Ask Questions

Get the audience involved. As them questions such as:

  • Can you think of other examples?
  • What are your biggest challenges in this area?
  • How many of you have experienced this?

Naturally, open-ended questions such as the first two can throw off your timetable or take you off-topic, so be sure you have plenty of time and be confident in your ability to keep on point. Peppering your presentation with close-ended questions like the last example is much safer!

8. Close With a Big Idea, a Summary, and Call to Action

The close must be strong, giving the audience something important to think about, a reminder of what they learned (echoing back to the introduction), and an idea of what to do or what will come next. Overall, it’s ideal to start and end the presentation with a strong idea.

9. Rehearse

Great presenters, like great comedians and great actors, put hours into preparation — that is how they make it look easy. If you don’t have a trial audience, practicing alone in front of a mirror will enable you to work out all the kinks. 

10. Give the Audience a Transcript

After the presentation, give audience members a printed (or downloadable) transcript of the presentation, with expanded text accompanying each slide. At the beginning of the presentation, let the audience know this transcript will be coming. That way, the audience will focus on what you are saying rather than frantically trying to scribble notes.

Author Bio: 

Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, one of the leading Internet marketing agencies in Chicago that specializes in SEO, PPC and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Smashing Magazine, American Marketing Association and Forbes.

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