Improve your sales deck in 5 steps

I started a new role in a company and one of the first few tasks handed over to me was the re-working of the current sales deck at our regional head office. The lead of the business development team passed me on her pitch deck and while updating the deck with the finalized design cover I could not help but think about how we can work on this better.

Over the past few working years, I have seen many sales decks and sat through presentations from colleagues, business partners etc. and these are the 5 most commonly committed misdeeds I have observed across a majority of decks:

#1 Wordiness

Yep, we have all did this before.

The purpose of a presentation is not for passive viewing.
The purpose of a presentation is to articulate your ideas better.

This is the basis of all presentation software whether you are using Office’s PowerPoint, Apple’s Keynote or alternatives like Visme or Prezi etc.

It is known that 65% of the population are visual learners¹.

So why are you putting so many words on your slide and expecting your audience to read off if, if they can do so on their own.

Presentation software is the tool to enhance your idea.

If there needs to be a rule on how much text a slide should have, ask yourself these questions:
* Is the font size, readable? Irregardless the age of your general audience, keep it a safe 13–14 point depending on your font type.
* Is it cluttering your page? Imagine the slide as a picture. Now, apply the rules of third² as used in painting and photography to the slide or composition. Do you have too much white space? Too many photos? Too much text?
* Read what you are presenting aloud. Will the slide time to be longer than your average projected time taken?

Remember, less is more.

#2 No use of Notes
If you are wondering where the heck you are going to put all your wonderful tidbits of information on your slide, you can now move the chunk of words to Notes! Not many sales representatives utilize this subtle but handy feature that is available on both PowerPoint and Keynote.
The purpose of having Notes is to aid you while you are presenting — provided you are presenting on an extended screen, not dual screen mode.
If you have a tendency to get cold feet speaking to an audience, this is a useful feature when you are lost for words on stage.
If you tend to ramble on unnecessarily, this could save you from over-running your slide.

Refer to the Notes and present your slide confidently.

#3 Theme and Templates
“I’m not a designer!”
Sadly, you cannot use such excuses anymore to back up your choice of slide aesthetics.
The beauty of PowerPoint and Keynote is the ability to use ready themes in the software or even creating a master template with your organization’s branding so your team can use it freely. Having a customized template is great because it keeps everyone aligned and your company’s communication looking consistent and professional at any time.

#4 Style: Artwork and Type

Has anyone ever said this to you?

Style is… subjective?
Yes it is.
However there is an old saying, “There is beauty in symmetry”.
Symmetry is harmony, proportionality. It has form and order.
Keep the consistency.
Check with your organization if there is an official corporate branding guide available. If not, here are some questions to ask yourself as you create:
* Is the colour tone in the photographs you are using the same?
* Are the illustrations or vector art choice from the stock image library similar or close?
* Do I have more than three font types in the whole presentation?
Group your objects, text and topics and you will find the flow comes naturally in your sideshow.

A coherency in your slides is half the presentation done.

#5 Animation
This one will have some people sitting on the fence. 
To animate or not to animate?
Animation is like cherry on the top of your sundae.
Would animation distract my audience?
The answer is no — if used correctly.
Animation can enhance and create emphasize for your diagrams or text. If pulled off well, it impresses and captivates your audience.

Yes you look like Mickey in Fantasia.

Or Gandalf the Grey in Lord of the Rings.

Now go get ’em tiger!

Notes:
¹ Visual Learners — https://www.quora.com/Are-most-people-visual-learners
² Rules of Third — https://designshack.net/articles/layouts/looking-at-images-phi-grid-vs-rule-of-thirds/
If you like to read more on types of learning styles and how to adapt to them, you can read up on VARK (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic) Learning, visit www.vark-learn.com.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.

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