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Plan Ahead to Avoid PowerPointless Presentations

Forgetting to prepare can lead to unforeseen consequences during your actual pitch.

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Planning is the most crucial part of presentations. It requires careful topic-analysis, in-depth research and proper selection of visuals and content to successfully meet your audience’s expectations.

How Important is Planning Before Your Presentation?

“If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” – Harvey MacKay

People who carefully plan avoid failure, but it requires plenty of discipline. The same principle applies to presentations. Before crafting your pitch, you need a roadmap to guide you to your destination.

What’s your topic?

This is the most important part of the preparation process, whether it’s related to business, sales, or otherwise. Without this, you don’t have a solid idea to work from, and you can’t continue with the rest of your deck.

Determine the purpose of your presentation

If it’s difficult to choose ideas to focus on, write down what you want to achieve first to help you move forward and gather more information to support your statement. Do you want to persuade your audience? Do you want to teach them something.

Do your research

Planning starts and ends with research. It’s how you generate ideas: by getting information and building on that existing data with your personal take on things.

You need ample time to find appropriate research materials such as books, newspapers, and reliable websites.

In relation to the previous two points, knowing your specific subject and purpose keeps your research focused. This prevents you from wasting time figuring out what information to look for.

Find the big idea

Having too many ideas can be overwhelming, but focus on determining your core message. This makes driving your key points home way easier. Highlight the important points by making sure you mention them repeatedly.

Draft your presentation ahead of time

An unwieldy PowerPoint is your greatest enemy. Prevent this by controlling it from the start. Draft outlines on paper to construct your ideas’ flow. Condense each slide’s content and incorporate appropriate visual design so you don’t mislead your audience on what your main idea is.

Know what to place in each slide

Don’t let your deck distract the audience from your message. Heavily written statements and cluttered decks can divert people’s attentions. They’ll just read what’s written on each slide and won’t bother to listen to you. Instead, keep a few brief cue cards or notes for yourself that differ from the text on your slides. Remember: your slides are only a guide, not your speech itself.

Practice your pitch

The secret to excellence is that no one starts out perfect. Consistent practice and perseverance are what make up a good presenter

You don’t have to memorize your entire pitch. Just be prepared and knowledgeable enough to accommodate all possible questions that may arise after you’re done speaking. This will make you more comfortable when delivering your message.

Avoid confusing your audience by applying each of these steps when preparing for a pitch. In case you skip any of these tips, you can still go back and accomplish each stage more completely. Begin with careful planning to achieve better results. Put the point in your PowerPoint.

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3 Ways to Make PowerPoint Presentation Notes Your Ally.” SlideGenius, Inc. Accessed May 27, 2015.
Crafting Content: How to Conduct Presentation Research.” SlideGenius, Inc. Accessed May 27, 2015.
PowerPoint or PowerPointless: Designing Presentations That Engage.” Informa Insights. July 22, 2013. Accessed May 27, 2015.

Consistency: The Key to an Effective Sales Presentation

Consistency is one of the foundations of success. This principle’s importance, however, is often neglected, with people barely realizing the positive effects of being and staying consistent.

But what is consistency in a sales presentation?

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In today’s business scene, inconsistent PowerPoint presentations often overlook the little details. This leads to sales pitches that end up falling flat.

If you want to sell your product or service, an effective sales pitch calls for a consistently convincing deck in terms of visuals and content.

Why is Consistency Important?

Your PowerPoint is a visual aid, but that doesn’t mean it’s just there to look aesthetically pleasing. It’s your partner in getting your message across, so it’s important to dress it up in a way that complements your pitch. PowerPoint is your tool to emphasize and enhance certain points.

Ensure your deck’s overall content isn’t confusing by considering the texts and visual designs that you’ll be placing.

Consistency in Content

Maintain a single and uniform structure in your main points to show unity in your overall presentation.

Keep your writing style the same from the beginning to end, especially when enumerating important ideas. Watch out for spelling and grammatical errors in your content. Avoid typos to make your presentation look professional and credible.

Keeping an eye on tiny details like these indicate that you value your company’s image and integrity.

Consistency in Design

LogoYes founder, John Williams, enumerates the effects your choice of color has on your business. Make sure you use a consistent color palette so that everybody retains your company’s image.

That’s why companies like Coca-Cola only use specific colors instead of all the colors of the rainbow—it makes it easier to connect your product to a certain look. Incorporate images and backgrounds that have the same subset of colors. Select relevant and appropriate visuals that support your text and highlight your product’s important points.

You can repeat certain elements to help keep your deck consistent. For example, don’t jump from wavy lines in one slide to straight lines in another slide. When each slide looks like it came from the same company, your presentation looks well-crafted and well-designed.

Inconsistency negatively affects your overall presentation because your audience won’t know what you stand for. Who wants to invest in somebody who doesn’t even know what they really want to say? Staying consistent, not just in text but in visuals, helps keep your audience on the same page.

It keeps them from guessing whether you’re one company or another, especially since consistent visuals repeat certain elements, stamping them more effectively in clients’ minds. Know what you want to say and how you want to be perceived. Use consistent visuals for a more efficient and clear PowerPoint presentation.

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“Structuring a Presentation.” University of Leicester. Accessed May 26, 2015.
Williams, John. “Your Brand’s True Colors.” Entrepreneur. March 06, 2007. Accessed May 26, 2015.

Fix Design Annoyances for Great PowerPoint Presentations

Alienating your audience is a terrible way of getting through a presentation. As a presenter, you want to effectively communicate your message without annoying anyone.

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In one of his “Annoying PowerPoint” surveys, David Paradi presented seven of the most annoying presentation mistakes involving content, delivery, and design.

Let’s discuss four of these bad habits and why they hinder you from making great PowerPoint presentations.

Small Text

Many people dislike small, hard-to-read text.

Your content may be great, but small text might hinder you from conveying your message. Imagine if somebody wrote you a note with extremely tiny text—would you even go through the effort of finding a tool to read it. You’d most likely just throw the note away.

This goes the same with PowerPoint slides. Make your slides noticeable to your audience.

Presentations are not white papers. Text shouldn’t be shrunk down to fit more content into each slide. Consider the eyesight of your audience when choosing a font size, preferably one that they can view from a comfortable distance.

Full-Length Sentences

If you were asked to read a slide full of run-on sentences, would you actually bother looking at it? The survey showed that 48.4% of respondents thought this was one of the biggest annoyances.

Compared to single words or phrases, people need more time to read complete sentences. Make it easier for them by using bullet points and keywords in your slides.

Overly Complex Diagrams

Every presenter has resorted to diagrams and charts to explain a process or concept at least once in their lives.

However, overly complex visual guides may actually make it more difficult for audiences to comprehend your point. According to the survey, 30.8% of participants hate hard-to-understand graphics.

Using diagrams isn’t a sin, but break them into sections so your thoughts aren’t cluttered. Visuals can bring life to your message, but with improper use, it can confuse audiences. Stick to simple figures when communicating complex ideas.

Poor Color Choice

Inconsistently using color throughout your deck can cause eye fatigue—25.8% of respondents cited poor color choice as one of the common pitfalls in slide design.

Choosing the right colors for your PowerPoint design is a must. Be extra careful when experimenting with color combinations.

People have different perspectives towards different palettes. When in doubt, use a dark color on a light background, or vice versa. Don’t use colors that are too similar to each other, as these are hard to distinguish, especially when projected.

Put a stop to bad presentation habits and optimize your deck. All it takes is a little extra care when designing your slides. Make sure your text is big enough to read from a distance. Use shorter phrases or single words instead of full sentences so that it’s easier for people to remember your message. Don’t overcomplicate things with complex diagrams.

Catch your audience’s interest and stay on top of the presentation game by improving the design elements of your PowerPoint slide.

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Latest Annoying PowerPoint Survey Results.” Think Outside the Slide. Accessed April 22, 2015.
The Art of Graphs and Charts.” SlideGenius, Inc. April 21, 2014. Accessed April 22, 2015.

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Featured Image: “You Suck at PowerPoint!” by Jesse Desjardins on SlideShare