Why You Should Simplify
Convince your clients that your proposed idea, product, or service is worth investing in like a PowerPoint professional. Similar to how companies market and advertise their goods to their customers, you need a strategy that is both creative and effective enough to profit.
You Main Advantage as a Presenter
Unlike a regular 30-second TV ad, you have more time to present your topic in front of your audience. While TV viewers switch channels the second an ad comes in, your panel of clients are in the boardroom because they want to hear what you have to say.
Even with a willing audience and a longer presentation window, you must convince them that they invested their time well by listening to you. At most, you have fifteen minutes to impress everyone in the room. Within that time frame, you need to show, not tell them why they should care about you and why they need to buy your offering.
The secret is reduction, a crucial principle of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, one of the world’s top advertising agencies.
Reducing your slide content means more space to clearly define your topic by eliminating self-serving buzzwords, technical jargon, and verbal clutter to get straight to the point.
How to Reduce and Simplify
Describe Your Topic in One Word
This gives a more accurate picture of what you intend to present.
What does it do? What does it offer? What is it?
If you can describe it in one word, you’ve already started to sell it. This is why great brands can be summed up in one word for easy recall. This can last long after their 30-second TV ads have stopped airing. A few examples given by ad veteran, Luke Sullivan, are Coke refreshes, BMWs are performers, Volvos are safe, etc.
Imagine what would happen if these brands did the exact opposite. If Coke described itself as a carbonated drink with a fizzy flavor, would it have the same effect? Probably not. This also allows your audience to easily recall your topic even after the presentation is over.
Avoid Lengthy Descriptions
A wall of text and a long list of bullet points will kill off your PowerPoint.
In his book, Aitchison notes that most effective ads, such as the Castlemaine XXXX Beer ad, kept their copy short and focused on visuals. This ad emphasized how much Australians loved Castlemaine XXXX, showing that this beer was the go-to brand.
You can only hold attention for so long, even with ten or twenty minutes at your disposal. Make your topics short and concise to make them more understandable.
Know Your Role
Once you reduce your topic down to the essentials, you can then describe what your offering does. Is it a money-saving fuel variant? Is it a more comprehensive health insurance package? Is it a sweeter juice drink?
What does it do? More importantly, why should your audience care about it?
Steve Jobs described the iPod Nano in 2005 as the new device that offered the convenience of a thousand songs in your pocket, but with additional features.
Before building your pitch, answer three primary questions.
- How can I summarize my topic in one word or sentence?
- What can it offer for the audience?
- Is there a visually appealing way to present it?
Simplifying is often harder than expounding, but according to Aitchison, the end result is more beneficial.
In the same way that brands use it for effective advertising, presenters can also use it for pitching their topics through PowerPoint.
You need your client to invest in your proposal, the same way brands like Coke, Apple and BMW need customers to buy their products.
To do that, make sure that your clients remember enough of what you say. Keep it simple, all the way from your words, your speech, and to your slides.
“4 Tips to Make Your Presentation Clear and Concise.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 22, 2015. Accessed May 25, 2015.
Aitchison, Jim. Cutting Edge Advertising: How to Create the World’s Best Print For Brands in the 21st Century. Singapore: Prentice Hall. 2004
Gallo, C. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. New York. McGraw-Hill, 2010
“Make Your Point: 5 Tips for Editing Presentation Content.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 09, 2014. Accessed May 25, 2015.