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A Presentation Expert’s Guide to Great PowerPoint Ideas

A professional presentation takes time, not just in making the actual deck, but in planning how to make it.

Presentation experts (even the ones behind Apple’s and TED Talks’ presentations) recommend spending the majority of your time planning for how to make and deliver the sales pitch. According to brand communication expert, Carmine Gallo, this takes at least 90 hours, with only a third of that time used for building the actual deck.

The rest of the time needs to be spent on knowing your client’s expectations. Qualtrics’ Scott Smith presents seven customer expectations to watch out for, so make sure to dedicate your time to researching the topic, and developing an effective method of delivery.

Ask yourself:

  • What problem am I trying to solve?
  • Is there an applicable solution that I can use?
  • How will I solve the problem then?
  • What advantage can I offer that the competition can’t?

A secret to getting effective PowerPoint ideas is planning ahead of time.

Let’s go into detail about how to plan your business presentation.

Step 1: Write Everything You Want to Say

Make a list, sit down with your colleagues, consult your company’s production/research teams, draw quick sketches and draft a script. Just get something, anything on paper when you start.

This way, you’ll have an easier time sorting through PowerPoint ideas that work from those that don’t.

Both professional presenters and advertising experts talk about similar methods. Whether it’s planning on paper or, as ad veteran Luke Sullivan suggests, sticking drawings of your best ideas on the wall, the best way to get your sales pitch idea is to dump everything into an empty space and sort them out.

Step 2: Be Your Own Coldest Critic

Once you have everything you can think of in one place, be it an empty Microsoft Word file or on blank sheets of paper, start judging. Using the questions listed above can work as your guide.

Everything you place in your PowerPoint deck stems from two sources: the client’s problem and the product or service you’ll use to solve it. The strategy is up to you. Consider the following questions:

  • Do you want to bank on your company’s reputation for being the best in the business?
  • Do you want to highlight one advantage you have over the competition?
  • Do you want to introduce a game-changing solution to an old problem?

Your ideas must fit whatever strategy you choose.

If you want to pitch for a car-rental service provider, or sell your electronics to a local distributor, ask yourself about the workability of your idea (for example, displaying consistent sales numbers or user testimonies). If you think it’s doable, keep it.

Step 3: Once You Have the “Eureka” Moment, Stay on It

One benefit of dumping your ideas and being your harshest critic is that you arrive at your winning sales pitch idea faster.

Everything you say and write will flow by themselves if your idea and strategy are sound enough. The best thing to do is stay with it.

Write down your script and slide contents while your thoughts are still fresh in your mind. Delaying it will interrupt your train of thought, wasting time better spent on finalizing your PowerPoint deck.

The Lesson to Learn

Don’t be afraid to critique your own ideas. A sales presentation is all about testing ideas against the client’s problems and coming up with your best solution.

If it works, come up with an appropriate strategy to sell your proposal better than the competition does. Keep at it until you find your selling idea.

To help you come up with it even faster, spend time with a PowerPoint presentation expert. It’s worth the investment. (All it takes is fifteen minutes.)



Gallo, Carmine. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. New York. McGraw-Hill, 2010
Plan Ahead to Avoid PowerPointless Presentations.SlideGenius, Inc. May 27, 2015. Accessed July 15, 2015.
Smith, Scott, “Customer Expectations: 7 Types all Exceptional Researchers Must Understand.” Qualtrics. Accessed July 15, 2015.
Sullivan, Luke. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This! A Guide to Creating Great Ads. Hoboken, NJ – J. Wiley & Sons, 2008


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