Once upon a time, animation was a taboo topic in the world of corporate PowerPoint presentations.
Today, it is far from the gimmick people once thought it was. We now recognize it as a powerful tool in design and branding.
Why Animation Is Important: The Data Shows It
Before we get into it, we’ve packaged this post into a beautiful guide (with a little bonus content!) for those of you on the go:
The impact of animation comes down to how it affects audience engagement.
Even against a backdrop of appealing text and engaging images, animation captures an audience’s attention. Where everything else is static, animation breaks the plane and stimulates the senses.
Its eye-catching appeal makes it the best tool for improving engagement and comprehension.
In a study by the Harvard Department of Psychology Decision Science Laboratory, findings show people tend to characterize presentations with animation as quantifiably more “dynamic, visually compelling, and distinctive.”
These same respondents also rated presentations without animation poorly.
In the context of the study, it raised the standard for the entire presentation. Respondents felt more informed and had a higher opinion of the presenter, citing them as “more knowledgeable, professional, effective, and organized.”
As you can see, there’s a reason animation is now a standard in corporate presentations and no longer a taboo or tacky addition.
When used properly, it can help an audience better understand new concepts and fight “presentation fatigue” by actively directing audiences to focus on important points for better information retention.
Integrating animation into presentations is not a golden ticket to more engaging presentations. The trick is to use it with purpose and discretion, otherwise it will only do more harm than good as it will confuse your audience instead of engaging them.
To incorporate animation correctly, you need to follow a set of important guidelines:
1) Know Your Audience
The subject matter of the presentation has a lot to do with where animation fits in. Apart from this, the level of animation used will vary depending on the audience.
Take a look at a heavily animated presentation for Spotify versus a simply-animated slideshow for USAA:
As you can see, two completely different industries and audiences demand different approaches to animation.
Think about how the animation affects the message.
In the Spotify example, animation shows life and exuberance to illustrate the world-building concepts of the company. For USAA, animation acts as an exclamation point for every important fact presented.
Both different, both effective.
2) Determine the Purpose
Animation should serve a purpose for the overall message.
To understand its purpose, animations should come after you build your slides.
The first four steps to creating an effective presentation are:
Create a storyboard (yes, even presentations need storyboards!).
Develop the content.
Sequence the slides.
Determine the key talking points.
Long story short: Content comes first.
After building the framework and creating the content, then consider animation.
Where do you want your audience to look? What slides or content need extra emphasis?
Animation encourages focus, so use it within the greater context of the presentation to direct attention where it’s most-warranted.
Mastering animation means mastering “eye flow” and being able to control the engagement of your audience.
3) Use “Motion Paths” to Your Advantage
PowerPoint motion paths are great tools when telling a story or explaining a process.
Through motion paths, designers have the flexibility to walk an audience through different steps of a process. Here’s a great example of motion path use:
As you can see, motion paths are useful for text, objects or images. In addition, there’s plenty of room for creativity with the custom animation option.
Use motion paths to literally guide your audience from point to point. As a presenter, you’ll gain more control over the presentation’s pace and engagement.
Motion paths instill much-needed cadence to topics for incremental education.
Think about animation like an exclamation point on the statement you’re making.
If you write a paragraph and every sentence ends with an exclamation point, the punctuation loses its power.
(If everything is exciting, nothing is exciting!)
Animation emphasizes a great idea or caps off a bold statement.
Overusing it or getting too complex with how it’s featured is a recipe for chaos. People won’t know where to look, what to focus on, or what’s important.
Keep it simple and organized.
5) Continuity is Key
The nature of animation should stay consistent throughout the entirety of the presentation.
Consider it a part of your brand guidelines. Don’t deviate from the style you choose. Your audience will notice a “star wipe” in the middle of dissolving slides, just like they’ll notice if your simple animation suddenly becomes very complex.
Maintain animation consistency to avoid confusing people or detracting from the message.
If at any time during the presentation the animation becomes more of a focal point than the content, it’s time to reassess.
6) Don’t Do “Defaults“
Consistency in style and intensity are important. It’s also critical not to let animation become monotonous.
Using default animations over and over again are just as bad as using poor photos or bad text. If anything, it detracts from the message you’re trying to deliver.
These days, technology and software companies need to go above and beyond to stand out.
After all, recent trends in the industry show just how difficult it can be to operate in the space.
Take the SaaS industry for example:
According to Gartner, the SaaS market should reach USD $75.5B within the next three years
Fragmentation is increasing as market entrants regularly offer new innovations (AI, business analytics, Internet of Things, migration to SaaS from traditional enterprise software)
The largest vendors are acquiring smaller and mid-sized players to increase their valuation while adding multiples of existing revenue
The fact of the matter is that even if a product or service is game-changing, failing to showcase your solution’s unique attributes will leave your business dead in the water.
That’s the immeasurable value of having a great looking and effective presentation in your arsenal of tools. In this article, we will take a look at what makes a good presentation in the technology and software space.
For those of you on the go, we’ve packaged this post into a handy PDF:
How We Did It
We sat down with our accomplished team of SlideGeniuses to discuss the sector in detail.
We had them answer the following questions for three of our customers (Qorvo, Spotify, and Duolingo) that operate in the vertical:
What were the client’s goals for the presentation?
Are there any recurring issues that presentations have in the tech/SaaS industry?
How did the presentation design strategy help accomplish these goals?
Recurring Issues with Tech & Software Presentations
1) Lack Engaging Stories
B2B Technology companies consistently struggle with developing a strong storyline. This is usually due to their content being full of complex jargon.
2) Visuals Aren’t Enticing
When presenting SaaS offerings, companies tend to struggle with making their visuals enticing to their audiences while also explaining how their software works.
3) Inconsistent Branding
Typically, companies who sell SaaS offerings don’t have a well-established brand or style. In large markets like tech/SaaS, companies have a hard time standing out.
Brand #1: QORVO
Qorvo’s goals for the presentation:
Qorvo needed a presentation that would showcase their new technology while also paying homage to their impressive track record as a strategic partner. They were going to be presenting in front of some big time decision-makers and c-suite executives. They needed the deck to convey their forward-thinking drive as an industry leader.
Original presentation’s main issue: Lack of a strong story-line.
The Final Product:
How did our design enhancements help accomplish Qorvo’s goals?
Once we were provided the final content for the deck, we set out to meet the challenge outlined previously… develop a cohesive, visual story without drowning out the technical information.
Graphically, this translates into a minimalist color palette, a modest amount of visual cues like icons and photos, and a focus on the actual information needing to be conveyed.
With the graphics doing their job displaying the content, we could now focus on using animation to tell the story. The simplest way to do that is through transitions.
Between every slide, we built a quick and interesting segue that led the viewer from one layout to the next, mostly with classic fly-in animations and smooth ends.
On the slides themselves, the animations included zooms and slow pans, providing a sense of professionalism without losing interest. Transitions were quick, while animations were softer in speed. This helps the viewer feel like they are moving quickly through the presentation but still gives them ample reading time.
You can most accurately see this action when the “Qorvo by the Numbers” slide transitions into the “Strategic Services” slide and the animation that follows on that slide.
The client was looking for a lift on their company overview presentation. Duolingo has a very fun and vibrant brand identity, but that was missing in their deck. Being a B2C SaaS company, as well as a free language learning app, the presentation had to appeal to a wide array of audience members from all walks of life. By elevating the visuals to match their identity, Duolingo hoped to use this presentation in an effort to increase sign ups for their service.
Presentation’s Main Issue: Unenticing visuals.
The Final Product:
How did our design enhancements help accomplish Duolingo’s goals?
From the get-go, we knew that implementing the client’s branding was only going to be half of the job.
The client wanted the presentation to be as interactive as possible, much like their app. After discussing it among ourselves and the client, we decided that having a hand come on screen to initiate each slide transition would be an interesting and unique way to navigate through the deck as well as mimic the app experience.
The animations also had to convey interactivity, so we leveraged several Motion Path animations with moderate pacing.
This would help to guide the viewer through the deck without working against the upbeat tone of the client’s branding. We also added some bounce to the Zoom animations we were incorporating to maintain a level of “fun” and “excitement” that directly correlated with the experience of using the Duolingo app.
We utilized an animation that we don’t always get the opportunity to use. On Slide 6, we didn’t just want to fade in the data visualization, so we implemented some Spin on the pie charts. This is typically too playful for a Tech or Financial client, so we were excited to get the chance to incorporate it.
Duolingo’s branding, coupled with the interactivity that the team was able to inject with transitions and animations, lent to a unique presentation experience that would go a long way in enticing new users for their app.
Brand #2: SPOTIFY
Spotify’s goals for the presentation:
Spotify was looking for a dynamic and engaging Company Overview presentation that they could use at trade shows and events. The idea was for something to play on a loop at the booth that would entice event-goers to spend some time in Spotify’s space. What’s more, they also needed the same Company Overview deck to be designed for static purposes.
Presentation’s Main Issue: Inconsistent branding.
The Final Product:
How did our design enhancements help accomplish Spotify’s goals?
Our first task was to create the static version of the presentation. We knew that it would be more difficult to make the static deck look dynamic and enticing than the animated version. In order to accomplish that, we leveraged Spotify’s use of color gradients in conjunction with circular, bubble-like shapes.
On each slide, we changed the color palette to create a new mood. This has a similar effect to different genres of music. Along with the colors, we used pictures of people we thought would be listening to something the other was not.
With the static deck complete, we set about animating the different components of the slides so there would never be a dull moment.
Additionally, we broke up the content a bit so the viewer was only focusing on one message at a time. This had a dual effect of giving them ample reading time, but also keeping them engaged more than a giant wall of text would.
We used several types of animations in this deck, including pan, grow, motion paths, pulse, spin and appear. We also used gifs to create a continuous flow of music notes. It’s a deck that could be set to any type of music and seamlessly be animated to the rhythm.
Ready to go above and beyond on your next presentation?
Stories are an intrinsic part of our experience as humans. They’re a vital part of how we communicate with one another.
That said, if storytelling is so essential to our daily lives, why do so few harness it in their presentations?
When we address an audience, we tend to focus on the important points we need to convey. We talk about data or explain a business model.
We concentrate on information that’s crucial to the outcome we’re hoping for. Yet despite this, we still forget to answer why everyone in the room needs to hear what we have to say.
Your presentation content has to be more than just a barrage of information and numerical data.
This is where presentation storytelling comes in handy—there’s nothing more compelling than a good story.
Just ask Dr. Zak, who carefully explains how the human brain responds to effective storytelling in this video:
Pretty cool, right?
The effectiveness storytelling lies in how your audience reacts to it.
As social beings, we’re naturally attuned to our emotions. It doesn’t matter whether it makes you sad, happy, angry, or nostalgic — our brains love a good story.
This is something TED presenters have capitalized on.
If you review the list of the most viewed TED Talks, you’ll see each of them has a story integrated into the discussion.
As Forbes contributor Nick Morgan points out:
“No matter how interesting the information, you’ll run up against the limitations of the brain and quickly overtax your audience. If instead you tell your audience a story, you get to jump right into the deeper parts of their brain, where emotion and memory work together — the hippocampus and amygdala.”
So the importance of storytelling can’t be overstated, but what can integrating a story arc do for your business presentations?
1) They Make Your Messages More Relatable
There’s a reason many of us filled our notebooks with doodles during our school days.
When incorporating storytelling, the right stories can make your message more meaningful and—most importantly—digestible.
This is especially true if you take the time to understand your audience and the type of life stories that will grab their attention.
2) They Help You Connect with Your Audience
Stories can help establish a bond between the storyteller and the audience.
They cut through the audience’s filter better than facts, giving you a greater chance of garnering more meaningful attention, earning their trust, and — ultimately — consuming your message.
Once you have a connection with your audience, you can have them hanging on every word you say.
3) They Make Your Audience Agree with You
When stories hit their mark, they can add a greater impact to your presentations, making it easier for the audience to agree with your points.
This happens because stories shut down whatever counter-arguments your listeners have, making them less likely to develop reasons to disagree.
Integrating Storytelling in Business Presentations
What is business storytelling?
According to Mike Murray, business storytelling is about “brands sharing their messages in ways that engage audiences and drive them to a desired action.”
This might sound like content marketing, but Murray maintains that the two separate, but related, things ideas:
“Business storytelling is a distinct content discipline that leverages well-crafted narratives in a diverse range of content types. Content marketing is much broader and speaks to the collective efforts that companies use to communicate with their audiences in an informative and engaging way.”
But how does one integrate storytelling into a business presentation?
Actually, it’s pretty easy to create a heart-warming story for a presentation. The real challenge is turning data into a narrative that packs an emotional punch.
First, Structure Your Presentation Like a Story
According to presentation storytelling expert Bruce Gabrielle, you’ll need to follow a simple but effective structure: Beginning, Middle, End.
Beginning: The Human Element
Start your presentation by letting your audience see there’s a genuine and relatable story behind what you’re presenting.
For example, identify a hero that your audience can relate to instead of leading with numbers or graphs. There is always a face behind all the abstract concepts and issues you’re taking on and that face will allow your audience to relate your topic to their own experiences.
Substitute “what” with “who do I really want to talk about?” For example, if you’re trying to discuss a marketing strategy, your hero could be a potential client. Describe the person you want to engage with your services. Talk about their demographics, traits, and values.
Middle: The Conflict
What would your favorite movie be like without conflict?
Like any good story, business presentations also need a bit of tension. Apart from his or her goals, you also have to identify the challenges and risks faced by your hero.
What are the things that bother your potential clients? What’s preventing them from engaging with your services?
End: The Resolution
After building conflict, offer your audience some reprieve by giving them a satisfying resolution.
At this point, you can put everything together and focus on data necessary to your discussion. While explaining the graph on your slides, keep referring back to your hero. What do these numbers have to do with the hero of your story? How does it solve the problems you identified earlier?
One thing to note is that although using stories in presentations will provide more impact, try to make use of captivating visuals, as well. While your narrative is certainly the most important part of your presentation, visuals remain to be an effective way to enhance audience immersion.
Let’s Take This A Bit Further…
To elicit even more powerful emotions from your audience, craft a story that follows the solid structure Gustav Freytag first envisioned 150 years ago:
In a literary story, this is where the author lays out some “ground work” by presenting the characters, setting, and basic conflict.
This is where you establish context for your presentation. Introduce the point-of-view you’re presenting and share some background information. If the story focuses on an experience you had with a client, set the scene and illustrate the important details.
After presenting the context of your story, it’s time to build tension and increase conflict.
Start identifying obstacles that prevent your character from feeling fully satisfied or happy. If your story is from a target customer’s POV, tell your audience about the challenges they face.
As the turning point of your story, the climax is the part where your character comes face-to-face with their problem.
This is where the conflict becomes fully-realized and a solution is seen on the horizon. For your presentation, the climax marks where you start driving home your core message.
Slowly, as a solution becomes clearer and clearer, your character takes a course of action towards the identified goal.
In the traditional sense, this is where the protagonist battles the antagonist. For your presentation, this is where you further flesh out your core message, expounding more on how it helps resolve the problems you introduced early on.
Finally, describe how your character meets their goals. This is where you explain how you and a difficult client came to an agreement. In another example, the conclusion is when your target customer finally achieves full resolution.
The Different Types of Business Stories
In literature, stories are told to reveal broader themes.
While you’re not expected to philosophize abstract themes in your presentation, the story you share should also have a purpose.
At its core, it should be more than just a story. Your narrative should be driven by a rationale that is essential to illustrating your presentation’s core message.
To get there, consider asking yourself these key questions:
What is the main point you’re trying to get across?
What is the underlying principle behind your presentation?
What is the significance of this particular story?
The more you understand the key takeaway, the better you can deliver your presentation story.
In her book, “Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins,” Annette Simmons identified six kinds of stories that can help facilitate business communications:
While Simmons uses these stories to help frame interactions that are more straightforward, her insights can also be helpful to marketing presentations.
Particularly, it’s the first three that are important to presentation storytelling.
These are the type of stories that help reveal insights to build trust and establish rapport between you and your audience.
Obviously, you won’t be telling stories from your own personal experience. Instead, think of answers to “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?” and “What do I envision?” in terms of your brand and company identity.
Humans have always been storytellers. It’s our way of connecting with each other.
In whatever form, the core of all our communications is the primordial impulse to tell and hear stories. Why not use that to improve your presentations?
A Tale as Old as TED
As mentioned earlier, TED speakers are some of the best people to ask about storytelling tips.
Human rights attorney and public speaker Bryan Stevenson has received the longest standing ovation ever given at a TED Talk.
In March 2012, Stevenson held a TED Talk called We Need to Talk About an Injustice. He talked about his grandmother and other people in his life, allowing him and the audience to establish a personal connection.
What made it successful was its emotional arc—a compelling story of overcoming a relatable struggle. If you don’t have a personal experience to share with your audience, tell them stories about real people—previous customers that have benefited from your company. Relevant real-life case studies are irresistible because the audience knows these are from other customers and not just opinions based on your thoughts alone.
Does your brand have an interesting origin story? This could be engaging and entertaining, like Airbnb’s—three guys making a few bucks by letting attendees at a local conference sleep at their place.
Not only did this pay for the steep rent, but it also sparked a $30 billion-dollar idea.
TED Talks have stood out as an effective medium because it provides extensive information that’s easy to understand.
But what else makes TED Talks special?
Carmine Gallo boils its core elements down to three. He notes that the success of these presentations can be attributed to these three qualities:
Apart from these, top quality visuals are also necessary in engaging the audience. Consider consulting with PowerPoint presentation experts, it will prove a valuable step in the long term, especially for sales pitches.
The Other Half of Effective Presentation Storytelling: Visual Aids
So what about your presentation’s visual aid (typically a PowerPoint)? Should you bolster your narrative with visuals?
Humans are highly visual creatures. We’re naturally attracted to beautiful colors and interesting patterns.
In fact, our brain is able to process images 60,000 times faster than information presented in text. It’s also easier for us to retain visual information.
According to Dr. John Medina, after three days, we’re able to recall 65% of information if it was presented with images or illustrations.
So if you’re presenting information that’s bulky with data, the audience will thank you if you can integrate comprehensible illustrations. Take the usual charts and graphs a step further by weaving stories through imagery.
Let’s take a look at some facts.
According to a whitepaper published by NewCred and Getty Images, the following statistics are proof:
40% of people will respond better to information presented visually
83% of human learning is visual
44% of users are more likely to engage with brands on social platforms if they post pictures
Articles and blog posts that contain images get 94% more views than those without
It’s easy to see why images are important to presentations and marketing materials.
Through visual storytelling, you can create stronger emotional impact. Visuals convey a story that immediately allows your audience to connect with the message you’re sharing.
So whether you’re delivering a presentation or revamping your social media profiles, visual storytelling is the best way to go.
When selecting pictures to use, try to keep in mind the four key characteristics of visual storytelling:
The best stories come from candid moments.
It’s why photo sharing has become so prevalent in the age of social media. Replacing the super-polished stock photos are snapshots that allow others to see the world through a more personal perspective.
Take, for example, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign. Instead of featuring models that are photo-shopped to perfection, Dove featured everyday women and challenged today’s absurd beauty standards.
To find images that are more authentic to your story, focus on what your brand stands for. Look for images that convey your identity and experiences as a brand. Next, look for something that will resonate with your audience.
Think about the people you’re addressing and what might be authentic for them.
Visual storytelling should also take into account what’s happening in the world.
After all, your message doesn’t exist in a bubble.
It’s contextualized in a milieu—a world where billions of individuals are discovering new things every single day. Make sure your visual stories are relatable and relevant to the audience you want to target. Consider what Oreo did to make the most out of a blackout that interrupted the Super Bowl.
For your own visual story, choose images that evoke a sense of time and culture.
The only thing better than a picture is the real thing.
But since you can’t have real situations on a PowerPoint slide, you’re going to have to settle for the next best thing. Visual storytelling thrives on imagery that can heighten emotions and senses.
Close-up and macro shots are great for showing textures that audiences can almost touch. On the other hand, a long shot can also take your audience into a particular scene, allowing them to experience it through a wider perspective.
Lastly, the best of visual storytelling alludes to narratives that are practically as old as time.
If you think about it, you’ll notice that all your favorite stories are tied together by recurring themes and archetypes.
These are universal symbols—called such because they can be found across many different countries and cultures. For your visual stories to be a success, you need to take these symbols and turn it into your own.
Find an archetype that relates to your brand and make it your own. Get to know your own new character and find images that correspond to this new version of a well-loved symbol.
Visual storytelling is a great technique to use in presentations and marketing efforts. By weaving imagery together, you can create a story that speaks volumes about your core message.
Integrating Visuals to Enhance Your Core Message
There’s more to visual storytelling than sticking random pictures to your slides. You can probably guess what we mean by “visual storytelling:”
Your statistics won’t make much sense if the visuals you add only serve an aesthetic purpose. Visual storytelling is about using different media that contribute to the message you’re presenting.
As an example, here’s a small part of an interactive infographic by Collaborative Fund, Hyperakt and Start Up American Partnership:
The infographic showcases the positive effects of car sharing to the environment.
It offers a lot of statistics that are perfectly illustrated to create more impact. It’s hard to envision the difference a vague number makes but through this illustration, you can perfectly see how much carbon dioxide emissions have diminished.
Your text-based, bullet point-ridden PowerPoint design isn’t helping anyone. It’s not engaging your audience, and it’s not helping you get your message across.
Instead, you should consider taking inspiration from visual storytelling. Showcase and illustrate your key points with visual elements, and your PowerPoint design will have more impact.
Hopefully this post has conveyed the importance of storytelling in presentations from both the aural and visual perspectives. Ready to take your next high-stakes presentation to the next level? Schedule a free presentation consultation!
Company conferences are a great opportunity for your company to affirm itself. They’re ideal for celebrating successes, addressing headwinds, and generally setting the tone for your company’s direction.
It’s a premier opportunity to reach a broad internal audience and convey a meaningful message.
Capitalizing on the prospect of a company conference takes diligent planning. Specifically, with regard to presenting information.
Failing to present yourself in a meaningful way can undermine your message, putting you at risk of losing authority. You need your conference to leave your employees feeling good about the direction of the business.
If you haven’t had much success with company conferences in the past, it’s time to reassess the message you’re putting out there. Here are five things that could be holding your conferences back.
1. They’re Not Striking
If you’re bringing your people together for a specific reason, make sure there’s a sense of ceremony.
Pomp and circumstance go a long way in setting the tone for importance. Start with décor and imagery that’s visually striking.
Above all else, accent the brand. Balloons, table runners, name tags, programs, or any other physical event materials need branding.
Use your company colors. Slap the logo on things. Reinforce the idea that, no matter the message, the company is the central concept—an annual gala to celebrate the company, a summit conference to discuss the future of the company, a thank-you event for employees of the company.
Create a visually striking atmosphere that emphasizes the brand.
Even beyond the materials, hold it at a venue that’ll excite guests. Or, enforce a dress code that sets a chic professional standard.
A striking event is one people want to be at.
2. They’re Not Stimulating
There’s a big difference between striking and stimulating.
Striking piques attention. Stimulating holds it. For as much as your conference should be attention-grabbing, make sure it’s attention-holding.
The best way to get people stimulated by your conference is to provide information in conjunction with visual appeal.
A beautiful program that contains great information about event speakers, for example. The design gets people to pick up the program. The information keeps them reading it.
Give people a reason to pay attention. Draw them in with flash and keep them captivated with substance.
3. Your Presentations Lack a Theme or Motif
Presentations are a cornerstone of any company conference. They reinforce a specific motif or idea, and help instill concepts in attendees.
Unfortunately, they’re also one of the biggest opportunities for making mistakes.
Your presentation could be ineffective for a variety of reasons. Cluttered slides, too much or not enough information, confusing data visualization, and lack of preparation are all barriers to communication.
Moreover, a poorly designed presentation simply won’t command attention—especially if their virtual events. But the biggest issue with most presentations is a lack of narrative.
Good presentations take time to put together.
The slideshow needs to set a tone, introduce a narrative, and read like a story. And, once you have a well-crafted deck, you need to rehearse until you know your topic and the flow of your presentation like the back of your hand.
Being able to deliver a well-designed, engaging presentation with the right cadence is the hallmark of a successful company conference.
4. You Don’t Have a Bold Takeaway
What’s the point of your conference?
If there’s a reason you’re bringing everyone together in such a grandiose manner, you need to make sure the takeaway is deserving of the buildup. Putting on a spectacular conference only to end it with a clear lack of direction all but invalidates the entire event.
It doesn’t matter what the takeaway is, it needs to be bold.
Make sure it’s emphatic and true.
Make it confident and clear.
Keep the tone calm and honest.
Above all else, make sure your company conference builds to a final idea.
The bold takeaway of your event will validate everything you worked so hard to put together. And, it’ll affirm the narrative of everything you presented—whether it’s awards or informative slideshows.
5. You Don’t Address the Right Topics
Take the pulse of your company before you start planning an event.
Failing to do so could mean putting on a conference that’s overshadowed by the elephant in the room.
Business facing hard times? Talk about the headwinds and the plan to address them.
The past year been a booming success? Talk about what went right and who made it happen.
A shift in the industry? Show how you’re adapting and what the path to success is.
Address the topics that your company needs to be talking about. Otherwise, your conference could come off as disingenuous.
Bonus: Find Ways to Engage!
If your company conferences haven’t traditionally been engaging, ask yourself if you’ve been giving people the opportunity to be active participants in them.
There’s a big difference between sitting everyone in a big room for a slew of presentations and actively involving attendees.
Consider giving people the ability to register for presentations they want to see or participate in.
Whatever it is, make sure it draws people in instead of keeping them at a distance.
And, of course, get feedback wherever possible to help decide what works and what doesn’t for future events.
Company conferences are an opportunity for both the business and its employees to have a level-set. Don’t squander the occasion! Spend the time to create a conference that’s engaging for everyone in attendance, while ultimately fulfilling the purpose of the event.
It’s marketing’s job to create opportunities for sales. In turn, the sales team works with the marketing team to continually hone and refine the messaging.
When this partnership is firing on all cylinders, the company grows, but alas, there’s a gap in the process.
If Sales Guy Steve doesn’t tell Marketing Maggie what he needs to sell better, how could she provide him with the right sales presentation?
Likewise, if Maggie doesn’t know Steve’s prospect audience, the presentation he’s getting won’t help him illustrate value.
Marketing and sales need to be on the same page.
Channeling core marketing principles into sales presentations is the best way to bridge any gaps.
Define Strategy Before Deploying Tactics
What do you want the results of the sales presentation to be?
Having a goal is an important first step in creating effective sales presentations.
This is where sales needs to collaborate with marketing and say, with certainty, what the final objective is.
Is it to:
Capture prospect interest?
Introduce or emphasize benefits?
Create an immediate sale?
Take market share from a competitor?
The biggest misconception is that sales is always about making an immediate sale.
It’s not. It’s about building customer confidence.
Sometimes the sale might come right away; other times, the presentation is just a stepping stone on the way to a future sale.
No matter the audience, have a goal. Know the goal. Design with the goal in mind.
Strengthen Your Message by Knowing Your Audience
Before a sales presentation is given, you need to know who you’re talking to.
As simple of a concept as it is, however, it’s often overlooked in the rush to illustrate benefits.
Benefits are universal; how they’re presenteddepends on the audience. Presenting benefits without the right spin tends to come off as generic or vague.
Consider these two examples for the same product:
Generic: Product X lasts 2x longer than the competition and costs half the price!
Targeted: Single moms on a budget trust Product X because it lasts 2x longer than the competition. At half the price, it’s easier than clipping coupons.
The benefits are the same in both examples, but the latter is more powerful. The targeted example speaks to someone, not at them. It shows the concerns of single moms—shopping on a budget and saving time. It shows this core consumer group that you see them and understand what’s important to them.
Once you have their attention, make sure you hold on to it.
Make a Connection (and Move the Needle) with a Story
Once you know who you’re talking to and have their attention, give prospects a reason to act.
Inspire them. Evoke emotion. Get them fired up!
The simplest way to tap into feelings and action is to craft a narrative. Simply put: Tell them a story.
Let’s face it: People don’t like being sold to. They prefer to make decisions on their terms, which means relying on your sales presentation to do the selling for you.
You worked 60 hours this week. You’ll work 60 hours next week. But today’s Saturday and you’re not working today. Today is all about sweatpants and slippers, comfort food and naps. Today is your day. What better way to make the most of it than with Product X?
Even that small snippet is a story.
A story is something people can relate to, that evokes emotion and creates understanding.
It’s the modern way of selling, and it’s only possible when sales and marketing work together.
Use storyboarding to identify the right narrative for your target customer. Then, support your presentation with powerful copywriting and design to drive home the sale.
Increase Interest by Keeping Engagement High
One of the most important objectives for any marketing campaign is just as important when it comes to sales presentations.
This is where beautiful and thoughtful design comes in and can really take sales presentations up a notch.
All of the following are powerful stimuli that keep prospects attentive and engaged in your messaging:
Someone should be able to process what’s in front of them in about a minute or two. The simpler things are, the more likely the idea will land.
It’s the job of sales to tell marketing what these most important features are. Then, it’s the job of marketing to convey them concisely.
Differentiate Your Message
Too often, sales will hand over competitor marketing materials to the marketing department and say “I want it to look like that.”
As a result, your sales pitch and presentation won’t look any different to your customer.
Worse still, it might look like a rip-off if they’ve already been pitched by a rival.
Don’t focus on designing a presentation that disputes your competition. Instead, focus on designing one that distinctly differentiates your brand and its products or services.
This is the foundation of a successful sales presentation.
A novel idea is going to get much more traction than a rehash of something your prospect has seen and heard before.
Fall back on your branding. Make sure the benefits speak clearly to the audience. Keep prospects engaged. The success of your presentation hinges on how appealing you make your message—and there’s nothing more appealing than something new.
Deliver a Compelling Call-to-Action
When the presentation wraps up, what do you want people to do?
What’s the most important takeaway for them?
Ending on a blank slide with the company logo immediately invalidates your efforts. Instead, end with a call-to-action:
Contact a sales rep
Visit this website
Place your order
Call this number
Giving explicit instructions leaves no room for error in helping prospects act.
It’s the final step in an effective sales presentation—arguably the most important step.
Even some of the world’s biggest brands have trouble marketing.
Not every idea is a home run and often, internal struggles are a primary cause of marketing failures. Sometimes, bringing concepts to fruition just isn’t a smooth process—especially when the struggles involve design.
Self-inflicted wounds are avoidable, but only if your team is able to recognize how it’s holding itself back.
If the problem involves the design team specifically, it’s important to look at where failures occur and how to avoid and overcome them. Here are seven of the most common for enterprise-level design teams.
In today’s turbulent, customer-driven marketplace, Agile has become king, and although its practices allow companies to flourish in the volatile and complex environment we now live in, the same practices can cause unintended inefficiencies beneath the surface.
For example, designers are now finding themselves embedded in cross-functional teams with engineers and product owners. Although this has its advantages, it isolates designers from each other, bringing problems of its own.
In isolation, designers can no longer receive the career-progressing design feedback they received when working closer to other designers. In time, this isolation can cause feelings of career stagnation and ultimately drive them to search for greener pastures.
For obvious reasons, this reality can lower the caliber of a company’s marketing efforts.
Yes, designers need to work with the people in charge of producing the concepts they’ll create, but they also need to collaborate with other creatives who have a hand in marketing, like copywriters and web designers.
Isolating the design department means losing the cohesion between these groups and the capabilities they have when working as a team.
2. Loss of Vision
With successful products come product expansions, related offerings, supporting services, and the like.
As teams divide to specialize in each corner of the product segment, the shared vision of the original product can get diluted (or worse, completely lost) in the shuffle.
And internally, designers feel the loss of product vision most acutely.
Marketing can help designers working across product divisions by providing a North Star to guide design systems.
3. Confusion Over Branding Guidelines
This is related to Point #2, but pertains to when the company or brand itself evolves rather than an individual product or service.
As a brand grows and evolves, so does its core elements: fonts, colors and proportions change, logos, verbiage as well as imagery.
Even companies with well-established brand guidelines need to keep their branding updated and consistent. Confusion over even small nuances can stall a project. If it’s not on-brand, it’s not approved.
A freelancer unfamiliar with the branding rules. A tenured designer who’s seen several iterations. Anyone on the design team can get confused if the brand guidelines aren’t clear and accessible.
Make sure everyone involved in the design process—from graphic artists to copywriters, web developers to consultants—has access to the most up-to-date version of the style guide at all times.
Like this post? Check out our “How to Effectively Support Busy Graphic Design Teams” guide:
4. Handcuffing Design by Stakeholders
One of the quickest ways to crush the design team and stagnate marketing is to handcuff creators.
Put them in a box.
Put a cap on their imagination.
Whatever you call it, it’s death for any prospect of marketing success.
This is a top-down problem. An executive doesn’t like the bold new idea, so they tear it down and go with the same old concept. A marketing manager doesn’t listen to the idea of a talented designer because they “haven’t put in their time.”
Handcuffing can happen any time you invalidate an idea before actually considering it.
Designers have varying capacities and work at different speeds, and each project comes with its own demands.
Instead of throwing the next available designer at a project or heaping more into the fire, pay attention to logistics.
These seven problems nag at even the biggest brands. Sometimes, working with creatives requires a break from the business mindset. It takes emphasis on the human element and an understanding of team collaboration to tear down these roadblocks and kick marketing design efforts back into high gear.
Design issues hindering you from making successful marketing campaigns? Contact SlideGenius today and we’ll help you get back on track.
Make no mistake: when data is involved, a visual is essential. A well-designed presentation with ample data visualization is a surefire way to get your message across.
Plus, it’ll keep people engaged.
Nothing puts people to sleep faster than someone rattling off statistics or trying to explain quantitative change over time.
Having a contextual representation of the data helps presenters stimulate their audience, giving onlookers a reason to pay attention.
A quarterly boardroom presentation, the pitch for a merger or acquisition, an appeal to stakeholders, the next big company initiative—whatever the subject of your business presentation, it demands data visualization.
Without something to look at, your message may fall on deaf ears.
What is Data Visualization?
Data visualization turns quantifiable data into something more than graphs, tables and charts. It creates comparisons through images and makes sense of data beyond numbers.
More than turning numbers into images, data visualization connects them with three important context variables: Meaning, Cause and Dependency. These variables help audiences better understand what they’re seeing and connect them to the greater concept.
For those of you looking for a deeper dive into data visualization, check out our “Mastering Data Visualization” guide:
Why is Data Visualization Critical?
Humans are visual creatures! Hence, every business presentation involving data needs a slideshow.
Engaging your audience’s sense of sight, along with aural stimulation, is a twofold way to get your point across—especially if it involves data and figures.
Take a moment to think about math.
Most people can’t do a multi-step equation in their head. But, give them a piece of paper and a pencil and they’ll have no trouble working it out in short order.
The people viewing your business presentation may not have to solve any problems, but the concept is the same. Without visualization, it’s hard to come to a conclusion or contextualize data. Creating a visual makes it easier for the brain to digest information.
Take the following simple statement, for example:
“Customers were four times more likely to buy Product X than Product Y, and nine times more likely than Product Z.”
Hearing that statement might raise a few eyebrows, but it’s hard to visualize what that means in your head. Instead, attach those figures to pictures of the products or proportionate representations, and you’ve created context.
Suddenly, the data is about more than numbers—it’s about competition. It’s about market share. It’s about dominance.
Example: Visualizing the World’s Biggest Data Breaches
Here’s a great visualization of the world’s biggest data breaches:
As you can see, good data visualization connects figures to concepts in a way that provokes thought beyond the numbers.
Yes, simply saying “Anthem’s data breach affected 122% more people than Adobe but only 14% more than Target ,” provides important information that can be digested — however, proper visualization of the statement allows for the audience to pick up on trends and patterns more easily and quickly.
It gives meaning to the greater concept, reveals the cause behind the figures, and explains the dependency of the data, so people can make broader conclusions.
Data Visualization isn’t Always Easy
While data visualization is the key to getting your message across, creating it is easier said than done. It needs to walk the fine line of creativity, relevancy, and clarity, or people will miss the message entirely.
Keep this acronym in mind:
Clearly distinguish the data
Leverage powerful imagery
Explain the “in”
Allude to the bigger picture
Remove unnecessary elements
Remember that this is meant to make data appealing. Someone should be able to see the data, contextualize it, and connect it to a larger concept.
But more than that, data visualization should tell a story.
Let’s say you’re describing Total Addressable Market (TAM), Serviceable Available Market (SAM) and Target Market (TM) in a pitch deck.
It’s one thing to say “our TAM is 80 million people, our SAM is 40 million people and our TM is 10 million people.” It may be true, but it’s uninspiring. It doesn’t tell the story of your product, brand or abilities. Instead, consider the power of data visualization:
Data visualization has levels, too.
In the above example, you might use your brand’s colors to delineate the different groups or arrange the icons in the shape of your logo. It’s subtle nuances like this that empower data visualization and drive the point home.
For most people at the helm of a business presentation, it’s hard to conceive these nuances when designing a slideshow.
Business professionals are intent on delivering the message—they’re not as engaged in how it’s delivered. Only someone with a background in graphic design or media analysis understands how important the little things are in data visualization.
And while almost everyone has access to PowerPoint, few people have the design chops and creative ability to execute exceptional data visualization.
PowerPoint is the Gold Standard for Data Visualization
Let’s make one thing clear: PowerPoint is the premier tool for data visualization.
We’ve all seen our fair share of bad PowerPoint presentations, but that’s not representative of how powerful this software truly is. In the right hands, PowerPoint is a game-changer for any business presentation.
PowerPoint offers numerous tools to make understanding facts and figures easier, particularly when it comes to data visualization. In-suite table and graph generation makes it easy to turn data sets into basic visuals—color-coded, labeled and in myriad styles.
Drag-and-drop, resize and stylistic tools also make it easy to insert prepared images into the presentation itself. Animation keeps audiences engaged! While we don’t recommend the star wipe for a formal presentation, dissolves, fades and curls are all great options.
For someone with a graphic design background, PowerPoint is a playground for making even the driest facts and figures interesting and exciting.
Data Demands a Visual Experience
It doesn’t matter how interesting or important your data is, it’s not going to have the effect you want it to without visualization to make it real.
For a business presentation to be successful, it takes emphasis on data visualization and the design elements that make important information pop off the page. If you’re going to give a business presentation with a visual element, make sure the visual is truly engaging. Dropping text into a PowerPoint isn’t enough. Adding colors and transitions might make it flashy, but they don’t inspire your audience.
To take your presentation to the next level and drive home a true understanding takes data visualization, done right.
We’ve all seen our fair share of dull PowerPoint presentations.
You know the ones—those wonderful preloaded templates. The walls of text. The “page turn” transitions…
Suffice it to say, presentations — and their visual aids — have come a long way since the early days of PowerPoint.
At SlideGenius, we’ve spent the last eight years mastering all the tricks and skills needed to deliver a truly excellent presentation that stands out from the crowd, which is why we wrote this post on 11 tricks you can harness to create a winning presentation:
1) Start with a Strong Hook
They say the first 10 minutes of any presentation are the most crucial.
That time frame is when your audience is most receptive to what you have to say. Fail to catch their interest from the start and you may as well pack it up for the day.
You need to start strong with a compelling hook that makes your audience want to know more.
Propose a thought-provoking question or tap into the essential interests of your audience. The goal is to set the stage for your presentation. Everything you present should be grounded in what you establish at the start, to deliver a satisfying payoff for your audience.
For maximum effect, be sure to do the same with your presentation deck. Here’s how Spotify hooks it’s audience with colorful animation:
This presentation grabs your attention right off the bat with its beautiful, fresh imagery and animation sequences. You can’t help but be excited, can you?
2) Use Storytelling to Help Information Retention
The typical business presentation can be boring, bland, and emotionless, the culprit typically being the presenter focusing too much on hard facts without any sense of narrative.
Information will always have its place in presentations, but the human element of your presentation should not be overlooked.
Numerous studies have shown that humans remember information more easily when it’s structured like a story. (In fact, memory champions regularly integrate a storyline structure to help recall long strings of information.)
Having a basic narrative structure helps establish a flow that audiences can follow and anticipate. Just ask Dr. Zak, who carefully explains how the human brain responds to effective storytelling in this video:
As you plan your slides, create a sense of progression and development. Begin with an introduction that establishes and contextualizes who you are and what you offer.
Naturally, the middle of the presentation should build on your foundation, providing proof you can deliver on your claims.
Your conclusion should tie everything together and deliver a feeling of fulfillment and excitement.
3) Use Visuals to Grab (and Keep) Your Audience’s Attention
Just like there have been countless number of studies on how storytelling can help increase memory, an equal number of studies have proven how humans are visual creatures.
We don’t just crave imagery, we need it.
So why don’t more high-stakes presentations take visuals more seriously?
Always be mindful of who exactly you are presenting to because people only care about what you can do for them.
If you’re trying to garner a company-wide buy-in for a new Design Operations initiative, the presentation you’d use to present your argument to C-level executives should be much different than the one you’d use to present to your company’s creative team.
Both teams will benefit from the new initiative. However, each team has different goals to achieve. Hence, the information in each presentation should speak to each audience’s respective goals.
And yet time and again, we see companies using the same sales presentation across different buyer personas, or recycling presentations meant for a specific department across the entire organization.
A more tangible example comes from brand communication coach Carmine Gallo’s book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, where he helped a CEO prepare a sales presentation for an audience of tech-savvy analysts.
Gallo suggested the CEO simply state the relevance of his company’s technological services to the audience instead of his originally lengthy and technical explanation.
The CEO asked his audience to hold their cellphones out. Then, he elaborated on how his company made those devices more efficient for its users.
Let’s think about this for a moment. His audience was mostly tech-savvy people. Although most of the audience could have kept up with the CEO’s original tech-heavy introduction, they still needed to know why the CEO’s topic matters to them.
With this approach, the CEO was able to keep his presentation simple and relevant with an engaging delivery about what his company can offer his audience.
6) Encourage Audience Participation for Increased Engagement
Audience participation is important because it deepens your relationship with your audience, while exhibiting your openness and transparency as a presenter.
The point is to treat your audience as an integral part of your presentation (instead of simply spectators) because based on the form of interaction, it can help your audience make important connections around what you’re presenting.
Here are some things you can do to encourage audience interaction:
Ask them questions
Give them something physical to do
Give them something to react to
Invite a volunteer
Use a real object as a prop
Use body movement
Speaking coach, Alex Lyon, goes into each tip in more detail in this video:
But remember to always be on your toes. Keeping the door open for feedback invites a slew of personalities. Some will authentically want to know more, while others will nitpick every single detail down to its bones.
7) Always Push Your Branding
As the presenter, you have full control over the information featured in the presentation.
Consider the mindset of your audience.
Do they have the time or interest to sift through dense sheets of financial information? Too much information in a presentation is a mistake many still fall for.
Take matters into your own hands. Carefully handpick the most essential pieces of information and showcase them in interesting ways. This can be done using infographics, charts, or sometimes simply just raw numbers. It’s important that your audience understands what you’re telling them quickly and clearly. Over complicating things by putting in too much information only risks confusing your audience.
Color, imagery, and language are big pieces of your branding.
Every slide is an opportunity to educate your audience on exactly who you are.
It’s all about consistency.
The goal is for your audience to accurately recall the main aspects of your brand. Whether it’s your distinct color scheme, unique design elements, or fresh tone of voice, keep reminding your audience who you are and what makes you different from the rest.
Here’s a pitch deck we created for NBC Universal that shows consistent branding in action:
8) Keep Data Simple
As the presenter, you have full control over the information featured in the presentation.
Consider the mindset of your audience. Do they have the time or interest enough to sift through dense sheets of financial information?
Over-complicating things by putting in too much information only risks confusing and alienating your audience, especially when data is important to their job roles.
The trick is to carefully handpick the most essential pieces of information and showcase them in interesting ways. It’s important that your audience is able to understand what you’re telling them quickly and clearly.
This can be done using infographics, charts, or sometimes simply just the numbers.
Here’s a revamped, simplified, easier-to-consume version of the above slide:
9) Bring the Energy
Enthusiasm will go a long way, and your audience will gravitate to you for it.
No one likes having to sit through a presentation by someone who looks like they don’t want to be there. By keeping your energy up, you naturally project a feeling of confidence.
Eye contact is a simple detail that’s worth remembering because it easily and directly connects you with your audience.
Remember to focus on who you are speaking to, whether it’s a face-to-face meeting with a potential partner or in front of a conference audience.
10) Include a Call to Action to Encourage the Next Step
In the narrative of your presentation, the final slide does not mean the end of the story.
When it’s all said and done, all your cards laid out on the table, you must guide your audience to make the next move. Whether you’re looking to make another sale or pen a new partnership, audiences need to be told explicitly what their next step should be. As the presenter, you can direct your audience where you want them to go.
While it ultimately rests on their shoulders to make decisions, you did your part to enforce your goals for the presentation.
11) Practice…a Lot
While it ultimately rests on their shoulders to make decisions, you need to do your part to enforce your goals for the presentation. After all, “practice makes perfect.”
Before you even step into the boardroom, you should know your presentation by heart. Rehearsals allow you to iron out any kinks that may affect the quality of your presentation.
Practicing is a great way to ease the nerves before the big pitch. The constant repetition will prepare you for the mindset you have to be in to deliver a winning presentation. A practiced speech exudes a sense of confidence and expertise that audience will instantly take notice of. It shows that you are a professional who takes their work seriously, making you come off as the ideal business partner.
Here are three things you might be overlooking when giving your sales presentation:.
1) Know Your Prospects’ Alternatives
Your potential customer has a problem. They need your product, but what you’re offering is only one of many.
In fact, your product may not even be their best option.
The goal of your sales pitch is to become the only option.
You want to start your conversation and sales presentation by identifying their needs. This is the moment you’re most likely to be on the same page.
What comes next is you telling them that if they purchase your product, their lives will be significantly easier.
Well, they may not agree with that.
As you present your solution and illustrate the benefits of your product, the customer is asking themselves a variety of different questions all which stem from one root question:
“Is there a better alternative?”
This is where you start losing them.
You’re losing them because as you’re speaking, they’re thinking of something else—lower costs, better performance, a faster solution.
This is why you need to be familiar with their alternatives (your competitors) and discuss them. By discussing these options, you provide insight, strengths, and weaknesses. Most of all, you are now in a position to understand their concerns which will inform future pitches and perhaps even help you improve your product.
Don’t hesitate to ask if there are any alternatives you’re not aware of.
In fact, asking them about their alternatives tells you something you have considered and you learn or they admit there are no better alternatives. Once someone has stated aloud that there are no better alternatives, they may be more likely to realize not buying just delays the inevitable.
2) Keep Their Eyes on You
Sales is a balancing act between compassion and aggression.
You want to be assertive, but still able to control the moment. Much of this balance is found in body language and eye contact.
Usually, when people create PowerPoints, they feel it needs to tell the whole story. They litter every slide with superfluous information.
This is a problem: by filling slides with walls of content, these assets fatigue the audience, give them an opportunity to “escape” (a.k.a, zone out, engage with their cell phones, etc.), and ultimately miss your key message.
The takeaway? Keep your copy as light as possible. This approach quickly turns the attention back to you.
You’re the authority on the subject. Making them read everything puts the onus of information on their shoulders, rather than you working for them. It’s a bad way to begin a relationship. By holding information for your presentation, you invite eye contact, conveying not only your authority on the subject, but your willingness to be open and communicative.
3) Avoid “Strawman” Comparisons
No one likes to be “sold.”
People are naturally wary of salesmen. The less a potential customer or client trusts you, the harder it will be to make a sale.
A quick way to lose that trust is to make an unfair statement about a competitor.
Salespeople are willing to dismiss their competitors as “just out to make a buck,” attacking their motives, their value or their service without regard for the facts.
The truth is, we’re all out to make a buck, but that doesn’t mean we don’t offer value as we do it. If you present yourself as different from your competitors because you are not financially motivated, you won’t have the credibility to close the sale.
Discussing your competition fairly and honestly will disarm their natural resistance to being sold.
And in some cases, others will offer a better product or a greater value than you.
You don’t have to acknowledge it’s better to say that it’s good. Simply focus on what makes yours ideal.
Sometimes, that’s as simple as the convenience of being able to solve the problem this minute without making the customer seek out their own solution.
After all, people value the human component. Don’t fail to add your person-to-person exchange into the column of what you are offering the competition is not.
Your Narrative Is Your Map to Success
When planning your sales deck, you probably collated a list of all your important talking points.
You may have even found an outline online of how to present all that information. But don’t defer to someone’s catchall approach.
The truth is, the ideal narrative for your sales presentation is shaped by who you’re talking to. That is, your prospects’ persona.
More than likely, you’re talking to more than one persona on a regular basis, so rather than following what someone else suggests has worked for them, ask yourself how you can adjust your talking points to direct each prospect to a moment of clarity specific to their personas pain points.
Your actual pitch is only a few slides. It should cover pricing, delivery, and your call-to-action. Once you’ve moved your customer to that moment of clarity, these are just the steps they need to get what they want. Every other talking point should be bringing them to this moment.
Equip Yourself with an Immaculate Sales Presentation
That puts their minds at ease. A clumsy PowerPoint presentation or sales deck can act as a warning. Rather than going to art school, enlist the help of a professional designer.
SlideGenius has been designing superior sales assets for our clients since 2012. We’ve helped countless clients throughout the world to build presentations that have raised millions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of helpful representatives to find out how we can help you bring your sales presentation to the next level.
Why do you need a presentation designer? Because every presentation has at least one goal in mind… to engage audiences.
Whether you’re guiding a prospect through a product demo, trying to garner buy-in in the boardroom, or announcing upcoming products at your company’s annual internal conference, your ability to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish with your presentation rests on a four key factors:
Your presentation skills (obviously)
The narrative of your presentation
Your audience’s level of engagement, and
The design quality of your visual aid (typically a PowerPoint deck)
If there’s one thing we’ve noticed in our seven-year history as an industry-leading presentation design agency, it’s that a lot of people consider themselves knowledgeable in presentation design because they’ve given—and received—so many of them over their educational and professional careers.
Unfortunately, only a few are truly knowledgeable.
And when it comes to engaging audiences, the quality of your presentation’s narrative as well as your visual aid’s design matters, especiallywhen the stakes are as high as they are in a sales presentation or the boardroom.
Let’s be honest, most people don’t even consider slide design until the last minute when it’s too late to integrate eye-catching and attention-keeping visual elements or craft a compelling narrative that helps your audience make the important associations you need them to.
By then, tunnel vision has settled in, causing you to overlook engagement-killing mistakes:
Settling for stock themes
Inconsistent fonts and design
Overabundance of useless information that’s considered “essential” by the presenter
—you know, mistakes that make you look old.
Time and again, we’ve seen hopeful presenters put maximum effort into designing their own presentations (or hire inexpensive design services), only to be met with sub par results.
Let us shed light on why professionally designed presentations are so important:
1) Presentation Design Teams Let You Scale
The bigger a company gets, the greater its demand for design services becomes—both in quality and quantity. For this reason, “Design Operations” (DesignOps or DesOps for short) has become a growing area of concern for design teams “seeking to help increase the value they produce for their host organizations and that organization’s customers.”
According to Pinterest, there are three advantages to having a Design Operations mentality:
Further specialization, and
Safe harbor designers
Take Airbnb, a company that skyrocketed to success in just a few years. Airbnb’s brand aesthetic remained consistent throughout its rapid growth across the world.
How was this possible?
In a nutshell, Design Operations pinpointed the most important design work and tasked them to Airbnb’s employed designers while outsourcing design processes that bogged down those important deliverables to agencies and individuals who could do them better, cheaper, quicker, and in many cases, all three.
Granted, not every company has (or will have) a dedicated DesignOps team, but management can still benefit from adopting a DesignOps mentality. Because the truth is, even presentations that look like they were just thrown together at the last minute are often the product of hours of someone’s work.
Having access to designers who specialize in PowerPoint—as our next point highlights—helps ensure that specific someone can focus on their actual job role.
2) The RightDesigners Know PowerPoint Inside & Out
There are so many aspects and intricacies in PowerPoint that most people aren’t aware even exist.
For instance, the morph tool brings fresh, attention-grabbing animation to dull slides:
Most people have used PowerPoint at some point in their lives, however, we at SlideGenius rarely receive decks from potential customers that scratch beyond the tool’s surface (Plain text, pre-designed templates, and archaic animations, if any).
Presentation designers (and more specifically, designers working for agencies that specialize in PowerPoint) are among the few that truly know how to maximize PowerPoint’s capabilities. They blend their design skills (imagery, text and animation) with mastery of the wide breadth of tools available in the platform.
For instance, are you familiar with “flair” animation? Flair adds infinite looping, free-flowing graphics to PowerPoint presentations, like in Windstar Cruises’ pitch deck (pay close attention to the water on every slide:
You can see how we used flair animation to add cohesion and consistency to Windstar’s deck.
Fully understanding the capabilities of PowerPoint allows presentation designers to integrate visually compelling features to each element of the presentation, including imagery, text, animation, and even animation timing and speed.
Everything is crafted purposefully to elevate the narrative of each slide—and the presentation as whole.
Now, should complex animation be present on every slide? Not necessarily. Adding animation to presentations is an art and can easily be overdone by an untrained eye. The goal here is to engage audiences—the last thing you want is to overwhelm them with unnecessary distractions.
The complexities of graphic design run deeper than simply having good looking imagery.
Professional designers understand the impact of consistency. Anyone can conduct a quick Google search and grab a few high-quality images, but do those images help tell your story?
Good presentation designers keep the big picture in mind when carefully selecting each element that goes into each slide. They meticulously choose and alter visuals to mesh with one another to deliver a cohesive narrative throughout the entire presentation.
Check out this example from our friends at Spotify:
See how cohesive the narrative and design elements are? The “Bubble” effect really ties in Spotify’s brand identity and keeps the presentation consistent and visually stimulating. The mark of an expert graphic designer is their impeccable attention to detail.
Apart from the images they choose or create, elements like color, alignment, and fonts deliberate pieces of the overall design.
While often overlooked, these subtle details lend to the message you’re pushing. When everything is put together consistently, it delivers a sense of polish that’s not normally accomplished in ordinary presentations.
4) Presentation Designers Provide Fresh Perspectives
Has your company been using the same PowerPoint template since 2012?
Do the presentations employ the age-old “copy on the left, image on the right” format?
Is animation integrated anywhere?
We’ve all sat through presentations with slides that have too much copy, boring format, and disengaging visuals.
Let’s take the presentation’s copy, for example. It’s a common pitfall for people to fill their slides top-down with content without realizing most of it could be cut or moved to another slide entirely. Audiences are less likely to read what’s on screen when there’re walls of text staring right back at them:
Concise copy is crucial because it has a direct effect on design. When there’s too much copy, it cripples the design into unappealing blocks of text. Too little copy, on the other hand, risks being too vague and will dilute the presentation’s message.
Ultimately, without the input of others, it’s easy to lose focus on what’s truly essential to the message of your presentation, missing the opportunity to engage audiences. A skilled presentation design team with copywriters can help provide an unbiased viewpoint on old content, identifying areas that you can reduce, remove, or rewrite.
If you’ve been using the same copy-heavy presentation for years, chances are your pitch isn’t as effective as it could be and it’s due for a deck refresh.
Ultimately, the balance between information and design is what separates compelling presentations from the ordinary, and a skilled presentation designer will help you find that coveted sweet spot.