Sales presentations: how to keep your audience engaged

Powerpoint presentations are an essential tool in the arsenal of most people giving sales presentations to audiences of keen-eyed and sometimes cynical potential clients or superiors. Simply listening to a presentation, however thrilling the presenter’s vocal delivery, usually does not convince people who are regularly offered new ideas and suggestions. And in the fast-moving digital world, decision-makers expect new products to be presented to them in an engaging way; every day, we see more news stories about attention spans getting shorter! Busy people need entertainment and visual stimulation in order to be as excited as possible about your plan or product. This is why good Powerpoint design can be almost as necessary as the idea itself when it comes to deciding people in favour of a product.

Which techniques should ambitious salespeople use when designing in Powerpoint? There are a few tricks of the trade that can change sales presentations from dull to thrilling.Â

Powerful Powerpoint presentations should embrace the age-old values of rhetoric proved to be convincing in Ancient Greece, and still working today. For example: famously, Apple inventor Steve Jobs loved to present things in threes. That’s the ‘triad’ system, which has been shown time and time again to be easier to remember than information presented in lists of two or four points. But don’t try to shove three key points onto a single slide – good presentations stay minimalist. Use one slide to announced you’ll be outlining three concepts or stages, then give each idea its own slide.Â

Of course, Powerpoint is a visual medium. Slides should contain as few words as possible. This is partly because people in a hectic sales meeting aren’t likely to want to read substantial chunks of text, and partly because the presenter shouldn’t have to read them out either. During sales presentations, the person speaking should try to make eye contact at least once with everyone in the room, and should never turn their back. Turning around to read from your Powerpoint presentation sends a body language cue to the room that the presentation is over, and they will stop concentrating.Â

The images included should tell the story for you. Clear infographics, evocative pictures encouraging emotions like happiness or satisfaction, and memorable pictographs, are what stick in people’s minds long after exact statistics have disappeared.

Text-heavy, undirected Powerpoint design can damage the pitch for an idea which would otherwise be welcomed. On the other hand, challenging presentations which use the art of storytelling, high-definition images and infographics, and interact with the presenter’s personality, are sure-fire winners.

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