I’m sitting on a plane and the man next to me is creating a PowerPoint presentation. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of his presentation is but the slides look dull and boring and laden with details and information.

Sure, he’s using bullet points and the occasional graphic but his slides aren’t interesting or visually appealing. Plus, his presentation is black on white (think overhead slide) and he is also showing some revenue and expense figures similar to a balance sheet.

I resisted the compelling desire to lean over and say, “Dude, you really need to spice up that presentation.”

The vast majority of sales presentations I have watched, attended and been subjected to miss the mark, especially when people use PowerPoint.

Here are a few key things to keep in mind if you want to create a PowerPoint presentation that catches and keeps your prospect’s attention.

  • Limit slide content. The general rule of thumb is six bullet points with no more than six words per point. I personally like to limit each slide to one key point and use it as a talking point; however, I do create some bulleted slides in some of my sales presentations.
  • Include only relevant content. Forget about trying to explain every single product or service you offer or talking about the awards your company has won, who your clients are or other self-aggrandizing information. As Sgt. Friday used to say, “Just the facts.”
  • Never, ever start with slides about your company. That’s the most common approach and fastest way to lose someone’s attention. Instead, make your first slide about the prospect and your understanding of his or her potential problem or current situation.
  • Use the reveal feature. Don’t show everything all at once because people will read ahead and tune you out. Use the animation feature to reveal each point as you present it. However, avoid using cutesy animations, sounds or character enhancements. Keep it simple.
  • Skip the corporate logo. I know many of you will fight me on this issue. Yet I firmly believe that your logo has little or no effect on a prospect or customer. The only exception to this rule is if your slides will be given to people who weren’t at the original presentation. My suggestion for this is to add a footer with your contact info to each slide and attach a closing slide with your logo and contact details.
  • Use vivid graphics. There are plenty of great low-cost websites where you can get eye-catching graphics. Avoid using the standard pieces of clip art and images that are included with MS Office.
  • Use PowerPoint as a guideline for your presentation. I like using PowerPoint in a face-to-face sales meeting because I use each slide as a talking point. But, I don’t use it as my presentation. If everything went wrong and I couldn’t use PowerPoint I would be OK.
  • Lastly, take time to rehearse. I never deliver a sales presentation without running through it at least once beforehand. The more important the sales opportunity, the more times I practice. I have consistently found that the more time I invest in this step, the more successful my meeting turns out.

PowerPoint is a very easy piece of software to use. Unfortunately, too sales many people use it incorrectly and end up subjecting their prospects and customers to dull, boring sales presentations.

Here’s a thought…

As you review the presentation, ask yourself if you would find the presentation catchy and interesting if you were on the receiving end. If not, you need to make some changes.

For more on making great presentations, see:

Kelley Robertson helps sales professionals master their sales conversations so they can win more business at higher profits. Get a free copy of “100 Ways to Increase Your Sales” and “Sales Blunders That Cost You Money” at http://www.Fearless-Selling.ca.