How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint (Video)

In this YouTube video, David Phillips presents five design principles to avoid “death by PowerPoint” by optimizing your PowerPoint slides:

Give Your Next Presentation a Humor Injection

Don’t you hate it when you lose stuff? Things like your keys, your wallet, and for those of us getting on in years… your mind? But as a speaker, the worst thing you can lose is your audience. Yawning, fidgeting, and clock watching like children waiting for recess, the signs are all devastatingly obvious. Yet short of putting a gun to their heads or offering a million dollars to stay with you, there is a better way to keep from losing your audience: inject some humor.

Even the gods love jokes.

Using humor in your speech or presentation has the miraculous effect of creating an immediate connection between you and your audience. After all, if you can get a laugh or a smile, people warm up to you very quickly. Humor also makes your presentation memorable. Do you remember the particulars of the last boring speech you sat through? Yeah… thought so.

But one of the best reasons to use humor in your speech is it reduces anxiety and tension in your audience. And an audience that is relaxed is one that is open and receptive to you and your message. That means more buyers, more clients and customers, and better bottom line results for you. From just your own experience, you know how much more you appreciate a presentation that uses humor versus one that doesn’t. So how come so few presenters use it? For most speakers, it comes down to a couple of things…

First, many people lack confidence to get up in front of an audience and deliver humor. They’re afraid that if they don’t deliver a laugh every few seconds, they’ll get booed off the stage. But you’re delivering a business presentation and no one expects it to be a joke fest. If they want those kind of laughs, they’ll have to hustle on down to the local comedy club. Your job is to deliver awesome content with a smile, not be the next Chris Rock or Larry the Cable Guy.

Second, most of us are taught that a business speech needs to be serious and has to follow a particular format. As a result, people get up in front of an audience and regurgitate a dull presentation, thinking they’re following ‘the rules’ of speaking (whatever those are!).

Amazingly, with a gentle shove in the right direction, you should have no trouble adding some wit and smiles to your next presentation. So just how do you inject humor into your speech? Try these three tips for starters:

  1. Begin with an enthusiastic smile. Believe it or not, the fastest way to get your audience to smile is by starting out with one yourself. Begin your presentation with a smile and people will warm up to you faster than sunshine in the Sahara. If you have a serious look on your face and monotone in your voice, you lose before you even get started.

  2. Use exaggeration. Probably one of the easiest ways to get that coveted audience connection is by using exaggeration. Instead of saying, “I had to rush to get to this presentation on time” try “I was in such a rush to get here that I had to be doing 450 miles an hour on the side roads.” Hilarious? No. But it puts a silly (but memorable!) picture in your audience’s mind of just how much effort you put into traveling, a picture they won’t soon forget.

  3. Self-deprecation. That’s a fancy way of saying have some fun at your own expense. When you poke fun at your mistakes, missteps, and even personal traits, the audience will relax knowing you’re human, just like them. It’s a great way to make you that much more likeable and approachable. But be careful… don’t tear yourself down to the point where you look like a two-bit moron. Just a jab here and there and your audience will soon be your best friend.

If you’re looking for ways to keep from losing your audience, leave a lasting impression, and stand out from your competition, inject a little humor. Because if you lose your audience, you may never seen them again.

Planning a PowerPoint Sales Presentation

When creating a sales presentation using a powerful application like PowerPoint, it’s tempting to run the program and explore all of the cool slides that you can create. The animations and slide transitions are fun. So, too, is the ability to add music and videos to your sales presentation. By contrast, the text of your sales presentation, and the supporting images, are dull and boring.

Resist the temptation to focus on the technology. You won’t close the sale by creating a stunning slideshow. You’ll only sell your product or service if you create a powerful, cogent presentation about the benefits of the product or service that you sell. And that requires a well-written, well-illustrated set of PowerPoint slides.

Focus on the Prize

The goal of your PowerPoint sales presentation is to sell product or service to your prospect. Your entire slideshow has to lead your prospects, step by step, to make a buying decision. Avoid the temptation to create dazzling special effects that become the center of attention.

Your PowerPoint presentation has to match the product or service that you’re selling:

  • If you’re offering retirement investment products, then your sales presentation needs to be clear, conservative, and professional.
  • If you’re marketing a vacation package that takes singles to the hottest European nightclubs, then your sales presentation needs to be dramatic and compelling.
  • If you’re selling a turnkey enterprise business software solution, then your PowerPoint slides have to be modern and high-tech.

At the end of your presentation, the decision-maker in the audience might say, “Wow, that was a beautiful presentation.” If so, then you’ve failed. You’ve impressed your prospect with your ability to craft a visually appealing PowerPoint sales presentation. But you didn’t convince her to buy your product or service. You didn’t focus on the prize.

Choose Your Words Carefully

You may be selling a complex retirement investment package. But you cannot assume that your prospects understand the language of finance and investments. You need to translate your sales message into the language understood by the audience that you’re addressing.

If the vacation package that you’re selling is designed to appeal to young single people, then you have to speak to them in a language that they’ll understand. A safe choice is to speak in conversational English. Use common words to form short, clear sentences. A risky alternative would be to try to speak to people in their teens and twenties in a language that they would find natural. Be aware, however, that middle-aged people who try to talk like teenagers often sound ridiculous. You’re not going to sell any product or service if your sales presentation is viewed as contrived and insincere by your target audience.

If you’re selling computer services, you cannot assume that your audience is computer literate. Tech talk will confuse non-technical people. And confused people won’t buy the product or service that you’re offering. You sell business software to business people by speaking in plain English, and not by using computer jargon.

It’s Not About PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a superb software application. But it shouldn’t be the focus of your sales presentation. Use PowerPoint as a tool. Create a professional presentation with clear text and graphics. But focus on the sale, and not the technology.

About ShapeChef

ShapeChef is a tool that helps you find and manage graphics and charts for your presentations. Click here for details.
ShapeChef: Graphic and Chart Library for PowerPoint

Blog Categories