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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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References

“Structuring a Presentation.” University of Leicester. Accessed May 26, 2015. http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/resources/presentations/structuring-presentation
Williams, John. “Your Brand’s True Colors.” Entrepreneur. March 06, 2007. Accessed May 26, 2015. www.entrepreneur.com/article/175428

The Pyramid Principle: Tips for Presentation Structure

There’s no easier way to lose the attention of your audience than by dumping too much information on them.

When you’re delivering a presentation, it’s important to a structure that everyone can follow. This structure needs to keep everything concise and straight to the point. It should allow one point to flow to the next in a logical manner. After all, the audience will find it confusing to hear wayward and tangential points. Luckily, learning Barbara Minto’s Pyramid Principle will keep you on the right track.

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Basically, the Pyramid Principle is a communication technique that allows you to to structure your points and arguments properly. It works by introducing a thesis statement before going into points and arguments that support it. Like a pyramid, the information you present should branch out as you move on towards specific details of the discussion. As written on Minto’s website,

“Extended thinking eventually ends in a single pyramid of ideas, at many levels, obeying logical rules, and held together by a single thought. Communicating the thinking requires only that you guide the reader down the pyramid.”

In other words, we can break down the Pyramid Principle into three main points:

1. Start with your thesis statement or key takeaway
2. Group arguments into main points
3. Branch out to discuss supporting details

If you map out your presentation, the structure would follow a hierarchy that look like this:

pyramid principle

As you can see, your presentation will be held together by single, key idea. To prove your statement, you will several different arguments that are grouped according to similarities. After that, you will discuss each detail as you move from one main point to the next.

To give you a better sense of the Pyramid Principle, let’s get into each of its three main points:

Start with your thesis statement or key takeaway

Following the Pyramid Principle, the best way to start your presentation is by laying out your conclusion immediately.

For business communication, it’s important to give the audience a clear idea about which direction you’re heading. While everyday conversations with friends will usually have a slow build up to a conclusion, talking with potential clients and investors are a different scenario. Considering the limited time we usually get with prospects, getting straight to the point obviously makes a lot of sense. In turn, this also allows them to see where you’ll be taking your discussion.

Group arguments into main points

With your takeaway presented, it’s time to delve into your main discussion. According to the Pyramid Principle, the next level involves grouping together all your arguments into main points. Each point will be a summary of specific supporting details that you’ll get into one by one.

Branch out to discuss supporting details

Finally, you can start getting into each of your main points by branching out to your supporting details. The idea is to keep everything under one theme so that the audience can easily picture how each item is related to one another.

Before arranging your presentation using the Pyramid Principle, you need to be sure of all the details of your content. You’ll need to brainstorm and draft out all of your ideas first. From there, you can edit your outline using either deductive or inductive reasoning.

You can start from the bottom up—deciding on all the points you want to make, grouping them together by theme,  and finally deducting your main takeaway. You can also start the opposite way—figure out the premise of your presentation, thinking of arguments what would make it valid, and then draft supporting details for each.

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Featured Image: martin_vmorris via Flickr

Go With the Flow: 5 Tips for Structuring Your PowerPoint Deck

Even with breathtaking visuals, it will be hard to make sense of your PowerPoint deck if it doesn’t follow a logically sound structure. Think about it: a movie filled with special effects won’t be able to hold its own without a storyline. In the same way, your PowerPoint deck needs to be guided by a structure that will allow your audience to make sense of the message you’re delivering.

These are 5 simple tips for structuring your PowerPoint deck:

Tip #1: Figure out the flow with a storyboard

Always sort out the details of your presentation before working on a PowerPoint deck. Begin by brainstorming your ideas, narrowing them down into an outline, and then arranging them into a complete storyboard. You can’t build a tight and well-structured deck if  you don’t have a proper starting point.

Tip#2: Give your audience an overview at the start of a presentation

After opening with a memorable title slide, show the audience what they can expect from you by providing a brief overview or outline. On a single slide, list down your agenda in short and repeatable phrases. Don’t forget to add related visuals and leave room for white space.

Tip #3: Break down topics into sub-sections

If you’re tackling a complex topic, you can break down your PowerPoint deck and create sub-sections. For example, Apple presentations are often divided into three major sections. To make the discussion even simpler for the audience, each section is further divided into sub-sections.

Tip #4: Utilize the footer

If you’re dealing with several sub-sections in a single PowerPoint deck, help your audience keep track of the flow of your presentation by utilizing the footer. Below each slide, create a marker that will allow people to see where your discussion falls in the overall outline. Let’s say you’re pitching to investors. You’re currently discussing your marketing strategy, which is a subsection of Marketing and Sales. Make sure your audience doesn’t get lost by having something like this on the footer of your slides:

footer01

Tip #5: If applicable, use the Assertion-Evidence Framework when building slides

It might sound like a mouthful, but the assertion-evidence framework is pretty easy to follow. Basically, it means that any statement you make in your slide should be supported by evidence that’s based on data. You can make your assertions in the headline of your slide, and use illustrations or diagrams to detail the evidence. Learn more about this simple but effective framework here.

If you want to ensure a successful outcome, you can’t just put together slides haphazardly. You need to carefully arrange your PowerPoint deck following a structure that’s logically sound and easy to follow. With these tips, you can make sure the audience is able to go with the flow.

 

Featured Image: Roland Tanglao via Flickr

The 3-Step Approach to Effective PowerPoint Slides

We’ve been providing you with plenty of ideas on how you can improve the design of your PowerPoint slides. There are so many ways to make unique and creative PowerPoint slides but the most important thing is to make sure your audience can easily understand the information you’re presenting.

And doing that boils down to making sure you hit these three essential things: concise content, powerful visuals, and a logical structure.

Take note of this three-step approach to ensure your PowerPoint slides effectively translates your core message:

1.) Write content that is concise and complete

Keep your text minimal in each slide. As we’ve covered before in our review of Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule, your PowerPoint deck shouldn’t serve as a teleprompter. If you add everything you want to say in your slides, you might be tempted to read from it. Even worse, your audience might just read ahead without listening to the rest of your lecture.

What you should do instead is to figure out the take-home points in each slide. Organize your points in a way that single concepts appear in only one slide at a time. Write these points in a manner that’s similar to writing a headline—in short but complete and discernible sentences.

2.) Add visuals that make a point

Visuals help make your PowerPoint slides attractive, but that’s not enough for an effective presentation. According to Penn State’s Michael Alley, when adding visual elements to your PowerPoint slides, you should also think about what purpose they can serve. Don’t just add a pretty picture because your slides look too bare.

Make sure that the images and illustrations  you include serve as evidence to the important points you want to make.

3.) Create a structure with a logical flow

While your PowerPoint slides might look great individually, they won’t make much sense together without any structure. Creating a logical flow to your PowerPoint slides is important.

Before you even start working on your slides, create a rough outline and a storyboard.

Look out how your main points play side by side and re-arrange slides if you have to. You’ll find that your PowerPoint presentation will make a narrative pattern that your audience can easily follow.

Conclusion

Your slides should act as a guide, not a complete rundown of your points and details. Give yourself some space to elaborate on each objective, and to interact with your audience outside the PowerPoint. As much as you’ll want visually engaging slides, keep your text down to a minimum.

Keep your content compact and simple, elaborate enough for the audience to understand, but short enough to let you speak. Instead of walls of text, go with visually interesting graphics, like diagrams or pictures. Connect all these points together with a logical flow that ties in all your points neatly.

 

References

Alley, Michael. “Rethinking Presentation Slides: The Assertion-Evidence Approach.” Scientific Presentations. Accessed August 1, 2014.
The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” Guy Kawasaki. 2005. Accessed August 1, 2014.

 

Featured Image: Matt Wynn via Flickr

What You Can Learn from TV Shows about Presentation Structure

Like films, television shows are well-known narrative devices that plenty of people subscribe to. In a more formal setting, presentations also share the need to relay its own core message through corporate storytelling, which engages the listener emotionally and physically.

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There’s a lot you can learn about presentation structure just by observing how your favorite TV series play out. A great episode follows a focused structure that constantly keeps the audience engaged. There’s a logical sequence to how each event leads to the resolution of a specific conflict. While your presentations might not be in the same line as a procedural show, having a straightforward presentation structure is still good advice.

According to communications expert Nick Morgan, presentation structure may vary depending on the specifics of the message you’re delivering. However, it should always maintain a logical and orderly progression from one point to another. Your audience will feel lost otherwise.

Have you ever finished watching a TV episode that left you confused about what happened? That’s similar to how audiences feel when they walk out of a presentation that didn’t follow proper structure.

Try these three easy tips to make sure your presentation structure sends the message loud and clear:

1. Define your premise

presentation structure tv show houseMost episodes of the medical drama House start by showing how a patient is first attacked by a mysterious disease that the main characters will later have to diagnose. It is able to portray a sense of urgency that keeps viewers interested to see how the rest of the episode will play out.

The same thing should be said about your presentation structure. In order to create the same effect, you need to start by clearly defining the premise and parameters of your presentation. This helps your audience know what to expect from your presentation. But while “Good morning, today we’re going to discuss X and how it affects Y and Z” is definitely clear, it sounds too stiff and typical. Try to entice their interest by using more creative methods, like posing a rhetorical question or providing a shocking fact or statistic.

2. Create conflict with a satisfying resolution

presentation structure tv show law and orderThe long-running procedural Law & Order follows a very specific structure in its episodes. After the police discover a crime scene, detectives set out to solve the mystery behind it. Later on, usually during the second half of the episode, prosecutors take the case to court.

In every episode, the viewers hope to see justice prevail. The show takes them there through a progression of scenes that slowly reveal the truth about the crime that was committed.

In the same way, each part of your presentation should be arranged in a way that answers or resolves your main query.  All great stories need some sort of conflict to push the action forward. While your presentation won’t necessarily be about the battle between good and evil, it should be able to provide a solution to a specific problem. As you prepare your presentation, think about what you want your audience to remember. The main takeaway is the resolution of your presentation. The conflict is the current problem or issue that your main idea will address. Your presentation structure should take the audience from conflict to resolution in a progression of slides that offer details and information.

3. Leave them wanting more

presentation structure tv show house of cardsWhat compels you to watch episode after episode of House of Cards on Netflix? While a good episode can produce tension with an interesting point of conflict, it should also be able to urge viewers to ask, “What happens next?”

Similarly, you’ll know you’ve done your job as a presenter if you can move your audience into taking action. To do that, you need to end your presentation with as much strength as you started. End your presentation structure with a clear and specific call to action. It should leave your audience curious to learn more about the product you’re selling or the project you’re proposing. Think of it as your presentation’s cliff hanger. It’s the last statement you make to get your audience on your side.

Good ideas become great once they’re arranged in a logical and discernible sequence. Allow your message to stand out by following a straightforward presentation structure that your audience can easily follow.

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Featured Image: Chris Brown via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
All TV title cards from Wikimedia Commons