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Limit the Numbers: Designing Financial Sales Presentations

Including financial data in your sales presentations is both a blessing and a curse. Numbers undeniably give your statements much-needed weight, while their mere presence creates a life-sucking void in your presentation.

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Have you tried copying awkward-looking spreadsheet data straight into your slides before? According to Think Outside the Slide‘s Dave Paradi, plugging the holes in your deck with endless numbers is about the least helpful you can be.

Here’s how to make effective and compelling financial presentations:

Limit Numbers to the Ones That Help Tell Your Story

Before inputting data, ask: “What numbers tell the story?

Pick the most important supporting figures. Endless stream of numbers will make your audiences’ eyes glaze over. Cut it down to the most relevant information that conveys your message clearly.

Just because you have numbers doesn’t mean you should use them. Including every single piece of information disrupts your presentation flow. Curate only the most vital data, that is, your main argument’s supporting information.

Illustrate Numbers Through Diagrams, Charts, and Graphs

Illustrate your numbers through diagrams, charts, or graphs to create an easier-to-follow visual narrative for your figures or statistics.

Since majority of the population are visual learners, your audience will probably appreciate and understand images better than blocks of text or numbers.

These visual representations let your audiences see the patterns and trends that you wish to explain. Instead of treating data as the presentation’s heart and soul, consider them the supporting details in a story you’re trying to tell.

Keep Text to a Minimum

Don’t include explanations or descriptions for your images, as you may risk oversaturating slides. Minimize the amount of text on your slides to avoid distracting your audience with unnecessary information. The effects of information overload involve inhibiting your audience’s memory. Too many things on the slide will make them forget about your main points.

Include only labels for the figures’ different sections. The rest of the explanation falls on your shoulders. Expounding on data verbally will not only ease your viewers in on your slides, but it also lets you establish much-needed rapport.


Too many numbers bore the lights out of even the most business-savvy audiences, but just enough data supports your message or even tells the whole story for you.

Put the right amount of numbers and determine the right way to represent them.

Still confused? If you’re looking for somebody to optimize your sales presentation, we have a team of PowerPoint specialists who can make your financial slides the way you need them. Contact us for a free quote!

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Spreadsheets Don’t Belong on Slides.” Think Outside The Slide. December 20, 2011. Accessed June 23, 2015.
The Visual (spatial) Learning Style.” Learning Styles. Accessed June 23, 2015.
Using Excel Data in a PowerPoint Presentation.” Think Outside The Slide. 2014. Accessed June 23, 2015.

3 Secrets to Making Numbers Interesting in Sales Presentations

It doesn’t matter how skilled a speaker is or how mathematically proficient listeners are. Numbers mean nothing unless you explain what they mean.

Pitches must back up claims, but you shouldn’t drone on with a string of unrelated numbers.

You can say that your company’s taken a 4% market share, or that your profit increased by 11% in the third quarter. You can boast that your bath soap can kill 99.9% of germs.

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The question your listeners will still ask is: what do the numbers mean to me?

According to brand communications expert Carmine Gallo, you can answer this by making your numbers specific, relevant, and contextual.

Specify who the numbers are for

When Steve Jobs presented the iPhone market share during Q3 2008, he used a pie chart to point out that while RIM commanded 39% of the overall US market share, the iPhone achieved a noteworthy 19.5%. Apple’s iPhone nearly equaled the combined market shares of Palm, Nokia, and Motorola (a total of 20.3%), as well as other competitors’ 21.2% share.

He confidently concluded that the iPhone can do even better in the future. This impressive information convinced Jobs’ prospects to invest in him.

Similarly, in sales presentations, show your audience two things:

  1. That your product can compete with major market players
  2. That your product shows potential for future investment

Make the data relevant

Make your facts and topics relevant to your audience.

For people to invest in your pitch, show them exactly what they’ll get out of it. The same goes for numbers you present in a sales presentation.

As one of Gallo’s examples, when SanDisk announced a new 12GB micro SD card for cell phones in 2008, they focused on the fact that it could store at least 6 hours’ worth of movies and enough songs to listen to while travelling to the moon and back. The brand simplified the specs and made it sound useful to its target market. Instead of throwing hard numbers at the audience, they made easy-to-understand comparisons to highlight the new memory card’s capabilities.

Put the numbers in context

Facts and statistics don’t exist in a vacuum. They indicate how a business performs in the present and in the future.

Going back to the iPhone example, Jobs used the most recent market share data that he could find. His crowd consisted of investors looking to see how well the then-current iPhone performed.

This is why Jobs used that pie chart. For the first 90 days of its shipping, the iPhone had 4 million worth of units sold, an average of 20,000 per day. It was a close second to RIM’s 39% market share (Gallo, 2010). That growth rate in the first 90 days established the high demand for the device. Jobs related his numbers to a specific event (the first 90 days of shipment), which put the achieved market share into a relatable context.

Relate your data in a palatable format. Choose the right way to visualize your information so that your audience can understand it too.

Since numbers are hard to explain, help your audience understand them.

Apply these three secrets and use graphs to make the data more comprehensive to the average viewer. Know which types of graphs to use depending on the information you’ll be working with. Specify who you’ll be presenting these numbers to, why it’s relevant to them, and how the data makes sense in your client’s context. These are the keys to converting well-made pitches into additional sales.

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Gallo, C. (2010). The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. New York. McGraw-Hill
Steve Jobs introduces original MacBook Air & Time Capsule – Macworld SF (2008)EverySteveJobsVideo. Accessed May 13, 2015.
The Question to Answer for Effective Business Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 25, 2015.

4 Simple Rules for Presenting Data

When presenting data, it’s crucial that your audience can fully understand what they mean and represent. You might think the highly complex graph on your slide is doing the trick. But it could actually make things more confusing for your audience. Make sure everyone is on the same page with these four simple rules for presenting data:

Include only the most important part 

Be mindful to include the information that’s most important to your core message. If you’re dealing with plenty of spreadsheets, review the data you have and figure out what they mean in relation to your presentation. This will help you pick out which data are the most significant to your key points.

Know when and which graphs or charts to use 

Figure out the correct way to present your data. Review the different types of charts and graphs to know what you should use for your presentation. You can also summarize your data in a few simple sentences if you don’t really need to go into detail.

Add some interest with related images and icon

Bar graphs and pie charts are great methods for presenting data. But if your presentation deck has one chart after another, your visuals can easily look dull and monotonous. You definitely want to have a bit more variety. As an alternative, you can try presenting data with images and icons that help drive home your point.

Lead by telling everyone what the numbers are about 

Before you go into a detailed discussion, begin by talking about what the numbers means. Provide the audience an overall look before zooming in to the finer points. Keep your audience engaged by helping them see the bigger picture. This is especially important if your presentation is crucial to sales or investment efforts.

Read More: 5 Commandments for Presenting Data in PowerPoint


Featured Image: justgrimes via Flickr