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PowerPoint Presentations …Easy to do, Hard to do right

The strength and sophistication of Powerpoint means that it is now extremely easy to put together sales presentations that are accompanied by all kinds of supplementary data and information. powerpoint presentations are practically de rigeur in the industry; without one audiences feel that there is something missing. However, the relative difficulty of effective Powerpoint design means that it is extremely easy to put together a slideshow that actually adds very little to a presentation; in fact, it can detract from your talk, leaving the audience bored and frustrated. We have all had to sit through bad presentations. In many cases, the slideshow feels like a bolt-on extra: something that has been added almost as an afterthought. This is because in many cases, it has – simply because it is expected.

To create a good Powerpoint presentation you have to bear in mind a few principles. The slides should complement your talk, not duplicate it. Again, you will doubtless have had to endure talks in which the slides simply repeat the spoken content – sometimes verbatim. The purpose of the slides is to support and illustrate the spoken material, making it more memorable and full of impact. Instead, they are often used to render it redundant.

Complexity is another key issue. Many beginners make the mistake of packing too much information into a slide, on the grounds that a picture is worth a thousand words. Simplicity is better, though this does not mean dumbing down your message. You are generally looking for bold, straightforward ways of communicating key statistics, facts and information. If there is too much on the screen then your audience will be distracted from your talk as they struggle to decipher and digest it. Graphs can be very powerful, since they can be used to show trends that otherwise take a great deal of description. You should add legends or brief bits of text to your slides, but not too much. You want your audience to know exactly what you are showing them, without giving them more than they need.

In the end, powerpoint presentations are supposed to complement your talk, not to replace it or duplicate it. Sales presentations are all about being convincing and communicating your message as clearly and succinctly as possible. Look for the take-home points, the ideas that you want people to remember above all else. Make sure your Powerpoint design helps you achieve this, rather than obscuring it.

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