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Storytelling: The Most Powerful (Yet Least Used) Element in Presentations

Try going a day without sharing a story. 

Sound impossible?

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, then why do we leave it out of high-stakes 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 storytelling comes in handy. Because 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 of storytelling lies in how your audience reacts to it. 

As social beings, we’re all 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 togetherthe hippocampus and amygdala.”

A story arc is the secret recipe most business presentations miss today. This is because they:

Make Your Messages More Relatable

There’s a reason many of us had filled our notebooks with doodles during our school days. Facts and figures can make any lecture boring and mind-numbing. 

When incorporated into your presentation, 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.

Connect with Your Audience

Stories can help establish a bond between the storyteller and the audience. Stories 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.

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

man giving a business presentation

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.

“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 presentation?

Actually, it’s pretty easy to create a heart-warming story for an inspirational presentation. The real challenge is turning data into a narrative that packs an emotional punch. 

According to presentation 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?

To give your stories 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…

Presenter telling a story on stage

To elicit even more powerful emotions from your audience, craft a story that follows the solid structure Gustav Freytag first envisioned 150 years ago:

Exposition

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.

Rising Action

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.

Climax

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.

Falling Action

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.

Conclusion/Resolution

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

Man telling a joke during a presentation

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:

  • “Who am I” Stories
  • “Why am I here” Stories
  • Vision Stories
  • Values-in-Action Stories
  • Teaching Stories
  • “I know what you’re thinking” Stories

(You can read about each story here.)

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 business storytelling in your presentations. 

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. 

Here are a few specific questions, courtesy of Content Marketing Institute, to help you narrow it down:

  • What’s your reason for being?
  • What’s your history?
  • Who are your main characters?
  • What’s your corporate mission?
  • How have you failed?

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

Man giving a TED Talk

As mentioned earlier, TED speakers are some of the best people to ask about the most effective public speaking tips. 

Human rights attorney and public speaker Bryan Stevenson has received the longest standing ovation ever given at a TED Talk. 

Carmine Gallo from Harvard Business Review shares that Steven describes his speaking style like he is talking to a friend over dinner. He talks at an average of 190 words per minute, as compared to a motivational speaker who may go upwards of 220 words per minute.

He must have had something up his sleeve if he’s capable of coaxing his audience to a lasting standing ovation.

In March 2012, Stevenson held a TED Talk called We Need to Talk About an Injustice

Here, he talks 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? You never know, 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:

  • Emotional
  • Novel
  • Memorable

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.

Visual Storytelling: How Stories are Told in Pictures

To presenters shaking hands on stage

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:

Authentic

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.

Relevant

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.

Sensory

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.

Archetypal

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.

Related: Mastering Data Visualization for High-Stakes Presentations

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.

5 Reasons Your Company Conferences Aren’t Engaging

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. 

The same goes for any speaker presentations or participation activities. 

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. 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.

Host games, raffles, activities, and other fun asides that offset the more professional aspects of the event. Solicit audience participation. 

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.

How Harnessing Basic Marketing Principles Can Help Sales Presentations

Sales and marketing have a unique relationship.

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 presented depends 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. 

Presentations that tell a story are more likely to get a favorable response than a classic sales pitch. 

Consider the following example:

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

Engagement. 

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:

Giving prospects something to look at beyond text is important. 

Remember, sales presentations have to be stimulating to generate interest in the sale itself. 

If the message (and how it’s delivered) is uninspiring, prospects won’t pay attention.

Keep It Simple, Especially with Data Visualization

A marketing presentation needs to be as simple as possible. It should stay focused on a specific topic and remain straightforward from start to finish. 

Just like brand experiences need to be cohesive and consistent, slides in a deck should be as well. 

It all comes back to the KISS philosophy.

As a good rule of thumb, every slide of a sales presentation should present a singular idea. That idea should be succinctly summarized and supported with engaging text and images. 

This is especially important when it comes to data visualization.

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.

A well-crafted sales presentation helps Sales Guy Steve sell better. But to get one into his hands and in front of prospects, Marketing Maggie needs to understand his needs. 

When sales and marketing collaborate, it’s evident. Sales presentations not only look great, they speak volumes to the people they’re made for. 

Here at SlideGenius, creating effective sales decks is our strong suit—it’s what makes us stand out. Contact us today for more information.

6 Design Team Issues that Negatively Affect Marketing Departments

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.

1. Isolation

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.

As a marketing professional, you understand a lack of cohesion and identity can negatively impact the customer experience.

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.

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. 

For design concepts especially, something new or bold is always worth considering—even if you don’t ultimately use it.

Designers who feel heard and valued are more likely to keep coming up with concepts. 

Eventually, one of them will be a winner.

5. Circular Feedback & Revisions

Any creative is used to getting feedback. 

But no matter how much feedback you provide or in what capacity you deliver it, there’s nothing more infuriating than circular revisions. 

It typically goes like this:

  1. Jane marks up a design and changes elements A, B and C. 
  2. The designer makes revisions. 
  3. Then Mark changes element A back to the original and tweaks element C again. 
  4. The designer makes revisions. 
  5. Then Leslie changes elements A, B and C a little bit. 
  6. The designer makes revisions… again.

Look familiar?

This vicious cycle can go on forever, and it will if people continue to make changes to changes that have already been changed.

It’s frustrating for a designer who sees every iteration. They’re often changing things several times, only to revert to an earlier design.

The simplest way to nip this problem in the bud is to encourage holistic feedback. Have everyone provide feedback or revisions on a design before sending it back to the artist.

Holistic revisions result in more cohesive final designs and a sane design team.

6. Project Hierarchy & Delegation

If everything is urgent, nothing is urgent. 

It’s the motto of someone who has been at the receiving end of a project barrage—often, a designer.

Good design work takes time and there’s a clear difference between work that’s rushed and work properly managed.

The solution to getting high-caliber design work and top-tier marketing graphics is to manage projects and delegate work with a mind for turnaround and capacity

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.

Conclusion

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. 

How Data Visualization Can Make or Break a Business Presentation

Data visualization is a powerful force, and adding a slideshow not only enhances the message you’re trying to deliver, it gives it context.

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: MeaningCause and Dependency. These variables help audiences better understand what they’re seeing and connect them to the greater concept.

Why is it 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.

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. 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.

11 Guidelines for Creating & Designing Your Best Presentation

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? 

Your presentations should make use of high-quality images, diagrams, and chart designs while integrating them with attention-grabbing animations.

The trick is not to overdo it (too many animations can actually be overwhelming), to make them consistent, and to select images that your audience will be able to relate to (more on that later).

Here’s example from our friends over at Blizzard Entertainment:

 

Pretty cool, huh? See how cohesive the narrative and design elements are? The “falling snow” effect really ties in Blizzard Entertainment’s identity and keeps the presentation consistent and visually stimulating.

4) Don’t Show. TELL.

The most common mistake presenters are guilty of is an over reliance on text. This creates two glaring problems:

  1. Blocks of text are not appealing to look at.
  2. Too much text can cause you to use the slides as a script. When faced with such unfiltered information, audiences are sure to tune out quickly. 

As stated previously, you need to tell your story using visuals — and the best way to allow that is to minimize text on each slide to create more real estate for imagery and animation to flourish.

It will take some time and practice to get used to, but you can rely on images to deliver the same message a line of text normally would.

(After all, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, as they say.)

Here’s an example of how we helped Duolingo visualize information that would have otherwise been dull:

It’s important to keep in mind that with less text to read from, it will rest on your presentation skills to emphasize the essential information on screen.

5) Understand Your Audience for Maximum Effect

Marketing 101… know your audience.

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:

  1. Ask them questions
  2. Give them something physical to do
  3. Give them something to react to
  4. Invite a volunteer
  5. Use a real object as a prop
  6. 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? 

No, they don’t. 

There is such a thing as too much data in a presentation, and it’s a mistake many still make:

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.

SlideGenius Creates Presentations for You

Can you handle all of that on your own?

If you are having trouble creating a winning presentation, contact us and we will help! From PowerPoint presentations to animated marketing videos, we specialize in meticulously crafting pitch materials for businesses to help them generate positive results.

Contact us today!

3 Tips for Your Next Sales Presentation

You’re getting ready for your next sales presentation and suddenly, you ask yourself if there’s anything you haven’t thought of. This isn’t the first time you will give this presentation, but is there anything that can increase its chances of making a sale?

At SlideGenius, we’ve spent years helping people build phenomenal sales presentations. We have seen what works and what should be quickly forgotten. Here are three things you might be overlooking when you’re giving your presentation.

Know Their 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, your pitch, by identifying their needs. This is the moment you are most likely to be on the same page. What comes next is you telling them that if they purchase you product, their lives will be significantly easier.

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 are speaking, they’re thinking of something else—lower costs, better performance, a faster solution.

Know what their alternatives are 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.

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 sales assets, they feel like it needs to tell the whole story. They litter every slide with superfluous information and by filling your slides with content, you have given this individual a place to escape.

You want to 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.

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. Some people offer a better product or a greater value. You don’t have to acknowledge it’s better to say that it’s good. You simply have to 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 creating your deck, you probably swiftly comprise a list of all your talking points. You may even find an outline of how you should 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 your talking points and your goal, both of which may vary. Rather than what someone else suggests has been successful for them, ask yourself how these talking points can lead them to a moment of clarity. You want to line up all your talking points to direct your customer to a moment of clarity.

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 Presentation

Customers who see a visually dynamic presentation get a peek at the quality they should expect. 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.

Four Reasons You Need Presentation Designers (Not Just Graphic Designers)

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.

Very few.

And when it comes to engaging audiences, the quality of your presentation’s narrative as well as your visual aid’s design matters, especially when 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:

  • Scalabiliy
  • 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 Right Designers 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, basic 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.

That said, it’s important to stand out, especially when giving sales presentations, and a skilled presentation designer can make your deck standout from a crowd of competitors (or acquire that “WOW!” factor in the boardroom) without overdoing it.

3) Good Designers Are Obsessed with Details 

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 Blizzard Entertainment:

 

Pretty cool, huh? (Learn more about PowerPoint animation capabilities here.)

See how cohesive the narrative and design elements are? The “falling snow” effect really ties in Blizzard Entertainment’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.

Skilled presentation designers know how important it is to break the mold. After all, it’s the only way to engage audiences.

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:

example of a copy-heavy PowerPoint presentation

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 you’re 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.

SlideGenius Creates Presentations for You

Did all of that seem like too much to handle? If you are still drawing blanks about design, contact us and we can help create next sales presentation! From PowerPoint presentations to animated marketing videos, we specialize in professionally crafted pitch materials for businesses to generate positive results.

The Three I’s of a Powerful Sales Pitch

Sales pitches happen everywhere from boardroom meetings and YouTube ads to elevator small talk.

Whether you’re selling an up-and-coming tech firm to big-shot investors or marketing a new selection of craft beers, the goal of sales pitches is always to get audiences to buy into the information you give them.

These pitches, big and small, are the backbones of developing a successful business. Your sales capabilities will need to be at their absolute best if you want to achieve success.

At SlideGenius, we’ve spent years perfecting the art of delivering successful sales pitches using PowerPoint. We believe in the power of visual storytelling and its unlimited potential as a sales method to help businesses grow. Every member of our presentation design team is a master of all things PowerPoint and ensures that each deck is creative, engaging and highly impactful.

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From introductory slides to closing remarks, we treat every slide with expert design and unmatched creativity.

While platforms, formats and audiences may be different from pitch to pitch, it’s essential to remember these three things to guide the direction of every presentation.

Interest

You need to attract the attention of audiences before any kind of sale can be made. Boardrooms provide an environment that forces attention on you, but that does not guarantee that audiences are fully invested in what you’re about to present. That’s why it’s crucial to start with an intriguing hook to introduce every sales pitch. Use a powerful image to draw attention and couple it with either a thought-provoking question or a bold declaration.

This initial phase will set the tone for the rest of the presentation. A good hook will make your audience hang on to every word you say. Drawing attention early on will make the delivering the pitch easier because your audience will be receptive to what you have to say.

Involvement

The best pitches are more like two-way streets. It’s important to actively engage with your audience throughout presentations. This tactic will relieve some tension off your shoulders while creating a more personal atmosphere to the pitch. These personal touches are what audiences crave when they’re being sold. It’s all too common for sales pitches to come off as cold and impersonal. These connections will be what your audience takes away once the pitch is over.

Visuals play a greater part here than you might realize. By looking at it from an informative or subliminal standpoint, images naturally pique the interest of viewers. You could be telling an audience your latest solution will change the way they live their daily lives to no effect. By pairing those statements with effective imagery, audiences instinctively piece together a clear understanding of how such a thing is possible.

Influence

Consider the pain points of your audiences and how your solution or products can make those go away. Knowing what’s in demand will make it easier for you to determine what and how you will supply.

Be clear with your audience about what you’re asking from them. This will push them to take action, whether it’s to start the purchase process or simply exchange contact information to keep communication lines open. As the presenter, you have the position to direct your audience to where you want them to go, taking with them all the information you have just presented.

SlideGenius Creates Presentations for You   

From PowerPoint presentations to animated marketing videos, we specialize in professionally crafting pitch materials for businesses to generate positive results. Our team of presentation designers, writers and animators are what make our work so popular.

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What’s the secret? From our experience making over 1,000,000 slides for over 3,000 global clients, we know what it takes to create jaw-dropping presentations. The refined and tested design skills provide exciting and unique presentations that meet the world-class standards of our partners.

The improved visual communication we enable has helped our clients raise hundreds of millions of dollars for their businesses. Let us do the same for you! The growth of our clients is our greatest measure of success.

Together, let’s grow your company further using the endless potential of PowerPoint. Reach out now to get a quote free of charge!

What Your Investor Deck Needs (But Doesn’t Have)

Your pitch deck tells your story to investors.

But like any story, it can be told poorly.

Many people struggle with choosing what information to lead with, but selecting the right points will captivate your audience throughout your presentation.

At SlideGenius, we help people develop and design pitch decks that stand out.

Over the years, we have discovered two things that that most people overlook when planning their overall content.

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To make sure your story gets proper introduction, here are two things that will instantly create relevancy and credibility when standing in front of investors:

Establish the Presentation’s Main Character

Every story needs a main character. Many presenters make the mistake of believing it’s them. In fact, the main character should be the demographic most affected by your efforts—the person most likely to buy your product or living in your service area.

Once they have a clear picture of the end-user, when you introduce your product or service, the usefulness will become apparent. This relevancy will help the investor imagine your success very plainly.

Market Data Sets the Scene for Your Investor’s Presentation

Market data is often saved for the end of a pitch. People draw upon this information like it reinforces everything they have said to this point.

The market is the setting for your story. Everything takes place there. Have you ever heard of a good story that waits until the final act to tell you where it takes place?

Leading with market data early in your presentation communicates fertile ground for investing.

It states the opportunity in a very broad sense so that you may put a finer point on it with what you are offering. It says, “Here is what everyone else is doing and how I am using this knowledge to my advantage…” rather than, “Here’s what I am doing. Many people are doing something different and being met with plenty of success.” After all, you want the attention to sharply focused on you, not inviting the audience to look around before you ask them to invest.

Don’t Hide What Everyone Already Knows

“What about when the market is poor?” you might ask. This is an even better reason to share early. Often when the vertical market is not considered a selling point, it doesn’t make the presentation at all. The result is an elephant in the room. The second you leave your audience to think over your proposition, their market concerns will creep in and undermine all your hard work.

Leading with market data, particularly if it’s less than ideal, allows you to tell your investors how you’re prepared to thrive in that market.

It says you are aware of the circumstances and are still confidently moving forward. It also serves to move on from the topic rather than allowing the audience to ruminate upon it.

It even attaches a narrative that stems from it so when they think, “sales in this industry are down…” their recollection draws them into what makes you so confident, rather than allowing the train of thought to die there.

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That confidence will ultimately make it easier for them to invest.

Does Your Presentation Have Everything?

What else does your presentation need? The right story is only the beginning. Dynamic visuals professionally designed can make anything captivating. Whereas slide after slide of well-intended but misguided attempts can make your presentation seem more like amateur hour.

At SlideGenius, we ensure that every aspect of your investor presentation is pristine and ready to go. We’ve helped more than 3,000 clients create presentations for investors, sales meetings and internal projects. We help you tell your story better.

Reach out and get in touch with one of our friendly representatives to get your presentation started today.