Presentations That Sell-110822

September 24, 2017 | Author: babakdoc | Category: Twitter, Sales, E Books, Computing And Information Technology, Business (General)
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PRESENTATIONS THAT SELL Secrets of a presentation designer

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If you think that any of the images used in this book infringe on copyright, please notify us via [email protected] Idea Transplant is a professional presentation design firm based in Tel Aviv, but serving clients all over the world. Visit for almost daily advice that can make you a better presentation designer. SalesCrunch is a social selling platform that that takes sales from fuzzy art to repeatable process by capturing, measuring, tracking & training the sales process across the organization. For more information goto

Throughout this eBook, professional presentation designer Jan Schultink provides an abundance of presentation knowledge and key tips in order to help ease your fears when creating your next presentation. By the time you finish, you will be wishing you read this eBook years ago.

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This book was created based on two presentations that professional presentation designer Jan Schultink gave at two SalesCrunch presentations at NYU in New York, April 2011. Slide design, eBook layout, and original content by Idea Transplant. Text transliteration and editing by SalesCrunch. The content of this book is licensed under a creative commons license: it is OK to use it, as long as you give us credit. Please do not sell (part of) the content of this free eBook.

Sales presentations are a vital part of business, especially as our world becomes more and more virtual and technology-focused each day. There are many different factors to consider when designing, producing, and performing a sales presentation, and often it is hard to decide which presentation tactics are necessary and valuable and which ones are not.


Your challenge The key to presentations is really a simple rule: Make sure your PowerPoint does not look like PowerPoint!

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Make sure your PowerPoint does not look like PowerPoint

If you have achieved that, you’re already on your way to a good presentation.

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Possibly the most important rule is this one: Do not use bullet points. Set yourself a challenge of eliminating any bullet points at all in your PowerPoint presentation; it is perfectly possible to design a great presentation without them. The use of bullet points is an unpleasant practice in presentation design.

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No bullet points!

No bullet points!

By the time I have finished Reading out these bullets to you You read them already plus Managed to check all your Emails on your blackberry and Even sent a few responses

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•! •! •! •! •! •!

This image best explains why. People in the audience can read bullet points much faster than you could possibly read those same bullet points to them, so this is not a way to excite an audience or get your audience excited about your messages. Once the audience figures out you are a presenter who will just read the slides top to bottom, they will direct their attention away from you and start doing something else. It’s incredibly boring and not an efficient use of their time.

No bullet points!

Short cut?

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Read letters Construct words Construct sentences Deduct meaning Store impression

There’s a reason for this in psychology and neurology. A bullet point basically means we have to read the letters, construct the words, make a sentence, create an impression and finally the idea gets stored in your brain – it takes a lot of work. Why not instead create a shortcut and go straight to the end by using images to make your point?


Use images instead

The second important component: a picture is an emotional piece of information and the brain likes to use emotions to make associations and boost memory. It’s similar to the food critic in the movie Ratatouille who takes a bite and all of a sudden his entire childhood lashes in front of him. This one piece of emotional input triggers a greater range of ideas and memories in a split second. Use emotional images to engrave impressions in your audience’s mind.

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Emotional shortcuts

Images are good because of two reasons: One, the use of images is a very efficient way to store and convey a lot of information. In order to describe the contents of the picture below in language and words, you would need to use a lot of text. The old cliché holds true: a picture is worth a thousand words.


Many great sources for images


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Where can you find these images? There are many useful sites. iStockPhoto is a really good example ( For a few dollars you can buy images, search them by keyword, by color, by format - you name it. They are all available in high quality for you to use. The only thing you need to keep in mind is to avoid the over-used, generic images that you see over and over in different presentations. Just make sure to weed out the right visuals in order to select natural-looking images in iStock Photo.


There are free sources as well Flickr is a fantastic archive of images. The drawback of Flickr is that the photograph quality is often variable. All of the images are real but not all of the photographers on the site are professional, so the quality may not be the same.

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Make sure that the image has a creative commons license which means that the photographer has agreed for you to use these images in a presentation if you give them a small credit in your presentation. This can be as simple as putting the name of the photographer underneath the image or at the end of the presentation. Otherwise you’re violating copyright and

Flickr CC Flick/AlexKess


Avoid changing aspect ratios

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A wrong aspect ratio is the first sign that your presentation is not professional. You can see here that the top image is stretched and does not look professional at all. Make sure when you resize the images you hold the Shift key down so that the aspect ratios for the pictures you use are correct and the images look as they are supposed to look.

Use ads as inspiration

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A good training trick of graphic design is to look around you (in the newspapers or at billboards, for example) and think about what types of advertising or images are good ones you like and which ones are not – and the techniques implemented in them that you can implement in your own PowerPoint presentation. The image below is something that you could easily recreate in PowerPoint. A red box, a “U”, and a mini logo, and you’re done. The techniques are not the limitation – it’s your mindset, your creativity, and your ideas that enable you to create a great presentation.

White space

White space

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Here is an important concept called “whitespace,” where a large part of the image of the slide is actually left blank or empty. People always see this as an opportunity and feel the need to fill the space with information. Presentation of a slide can be much more powerful when the slides are actually left blank. Often people object and say they have a restriction – “My boss said I could have only 10 slides,” or “Half of the slide is completely empty, I can make this presentation look a lot better by just filling it up with as much information as possible.” My advice would be to ignore that limitation but stick to the other important constraint – your time limit.

It’s OK to use a lot of slides Feel free to use a lot of slides and switch through quickly. It’s irrelevant how many slides you have as long as you stick within your time boundaries.

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If you have a lot of slides you can just use a remote control to go at a high pace through your deck. You can ignore rules that people say you can only bring a certain number of slides, but know that you’re going to have to stick to your window of time.

Symetry does not look good You can see this in art and again in advertising. The natural eye likes to put things slightly offcenter to create a little bit of an asymmetric balance inside the slide.

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In composition of slides, you will see that professional designers do not like symmetry – they always put objects slightly off center. Try to use the same concept and resist the urge to put everything in the very center. Move things around, keep the white space, and it will keep the slide breathing.

Align your objects When objects are not completely aligned, it distracts the attention of the audience. People start wondering why it everything is not aligned perfectly on your slide, and as a result they are not paying attention to the story you are trying to tell. Make you slides look more professional by straightening things out, aligning things, and distributing things properly across the slide.

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Align and distribute

Even if you choose not to align at all, the worst thing is when you attempt to align and things are just slightly off. Simply find your alignment button in PowerPoint to fix your objects

Things go up, up, up

We have momentum!

When you invert the movement in the slide, there’s a complete contradiction with the message you have and the layout of the objects. Make sure the energy is focused upwards. If you are comparing different things, the favorable option (versus the unfavorable one) should always be in the top right corner. Things should always move in this direction in the slide to keep the

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When you have a sequence of objects, the composition and the energy that fly across a slide, as well as the movement of the slides, are extremely important. In Western culture people like to go from left to right, from the bottom to the top, so keeping that motion consistent on your slides is key.


Round your numbers

Whenever you use numbers just round them up to a few digits after the decimal. It’s better to keep things a bit simple, round things out, and put things in perspective. There’s no false sense of accuracy in the numbers you use.


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Often people will copy and paste data straight from Excel straight in Powerpoint, and this gives an incredible sense of accuracy that may no be not right. As the presenter you frequently are not completely quite sure whether this number is that detailed, and additionally long unrounded numbers look disturbing and cluttered.


Data charts Here is an example of a poor chart that can be improved dramatically. There are a number of violations: the double axis, the very small labels, the tick marks. Additionally, the colors of the bars do not match the color scheme, and the item that the chart is actually depicting (revenue in millions of dollars) is small and written at the bottom of the slide. The whole thing is cluttered, messy, and not very clear. The slide is also using 3 dimensional graphics, which makes it harder to read. Just because Powerpoint can do these things (add 3D graphics and shading, etc.) does not always mean that you have to use it in your presentation. Tweet this eBook

A poor data chart


Data charts Instead, in your data charts you should use much calmer slides that really focus on the message you would like to give. Utilize one row of numbers, calm colors, and keep everything in harmony. The above image is an example of a good data chart: the right colors, rounded numbers, simple messages. It is very similar to the charts you would find in magazines such as The Economist and newspapers such as the New York Times. Data charts should be simple, clean, and just focus on one trend. You can tell that there is one clear message. Tweet this eBook

A good data chart


Choose your fonts wisely

Which company looks better?

Use a good font. The top one is “Helvetica.” Use something that just looks professional, and instantly your presentation will look improved

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Which company looks better?

Fonts are important. Stick to professional-looking, simple, and clear fonts. The bottom font is Comic Sans, which you can often see in advertisements in the water cooler area of your office or even invitations to children’s birthday parties, but it is not the type of font you want to use in a professional presentation.


Consistent colors There’s a different way to create your look and feel. It’s very simple: use your colors consistently. Which colors you use is a very personal taste, but at least pick a few colors and keep them consistent in your template. There are many good software tools you can use in order to get your color schemes. Adobe Kuler allows you to upload an image and then the program will just extract color codes for you. If you are part of an established company, you will probably be using the colors that are part of the company’s logo. It’s just a matter of programming the color codes in your PowerPoint template and then Tweet this eBook

Professional colors: Adobe Kuler


Don’t fill the pages with logos


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Give your content space

In many presentations there are a lot of repeating elements on every slide, but the result is that there is not a lot of space for your own content. Your audience does not need to be reminded on every slide who is presenting to them. You can have your logo on the front page and maybe one on the back page, but these repeating graphical elements on every slide detract from your content.


You can leave a page blank

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Left blank on purpose

In a presentation there are moments when you want to pull the attention of the audience back to you. And to do that you can either just use a blank, dark slide or blank out the screen with a remote and switch it back on again (or just press “b” on the keyboard). It is easiest to put the blank slide in the presentation deck so that the previous slide does not come up one more time. Doing this will break up your presentation and focus the energy of the room back on you again.

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If you’ve been in a sales meeting before, this is often the first thing you see: the famous agenda slide. When you see this slide something sinks into your shoes and your reaction is “Uh-oh I have to sit through all of this.” This is a structure of a presentation that uses repetition: the presenter is first going to summarize the presentation, then give the actual presentation, then repeat it – so she ends up giving it 3 times. Repetition is often a structure that people use in education. If the brain is resistant to learn something, we just pound and repeat until the brain snaps and gives in and finally remember the facts for the test - but the day after you’ve probably forgotten all about it. Not a very good strategy when you want someone to voluntarily understand your message.

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We will summarize item 1 to 4 We will present item 1 We will present item 2 We will present item 3 We will present item 4 We will summarize item 1 to 4

Don’t tell the story 3x


Build a story

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

When you read this sentence immediately your mind grows curious and tries to fill in the missing parts – “Wait a minute. What’s happening with that baby? What happened?” Your mind wants to fill in missing pieces and learn more about it, so it gets excited and intrigued by a storyline. This is the exact opposite of pounding in and repeating facts until the brain gives up the resistance. Here the brain actually wants to learn. You have more questions and are more interested, and this is something that definitely can be leveraged in a presentation.

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The better approach is to build a story. Stories are much more interesting. Here is a short one – just 6 words – written by Ernest Hemmingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”


The memory in the brain likes to put things in a framework – in a story, in a 3d space, in a room. You can see this effect when you run a brainstorming session in front of a whiteboard. You completely fill the space up in a span of 2 hours and take a snapshot, and when you look at the same image three or four weeks later, you probably are able to remember the entire richness of that particular discussion very, very accurately. And not because you managed to read the comments on the page - but somehow your brain has given the content of discussion a two-dimensional space and stored the entire richness of the discussion back in your mind. This is how we remember things: we put things in two or three-dimensional spaces.

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Spatial memory


Your presentation as a movie

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Think product placement inside a story

Treat your presentations the same way - look at your presentation as a movie in which you perform product placement, dropping bits of exciting information along the way and taking your customer by the hand through it. How do you design that story? How do you get from the business plan structure to a story that could be exciting to a customer?


So many decks, so few stories

As a result there is no flow, no story, and it is not interesting to listen to. Avoid “Frankensteining” and instead use an analog approach. Tweet this eBook


Many times presenters implement a process called “Frankensteining,” where you open all presentation decks that your company has possibly had in the last several months and mash them all together to get the ultimate deck together. It contains all of the information that anyone ever wanted to know and your pitch presentation contains 50 different things, as you start to go through them one-by-one.


Going analogue iThoughtsHD

Shut down PowerPoint and take a piece of paper and go analog. Start from scratch and don’t even look at your business plan. Try to tell your story in 20 minutes to a friend without any visual help and listen to what came out during that time. “What did I put first? What did I spend time on? What didn’t I spend time on? Where did I find the urge to take a pencil and draw a very simple diagram just to show how things work?” This is a very good starting point to creating the natural flow of a story that comes to you if you’re not restricted by PowerPoint bullets or a framework that you learned Mindmapping can be an excellent tool to support this initial phase of presentation design.

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Going analogue

Go analogue

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Beyond the sales meeting


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Other decision inputs

The actual sales meeting is only part of the input a client uses to decide whether to buy your product or service. There are other factors and emotional influences. Before or after the presentation, the client can view your website or play around with a demo - facts are taken care of usually through these or other ways. This basically will show them how you are and how it would be like to do business with you. The impressions your client gets is irrespective of the content written on your slides. The customer’s impressions of you can be very subtle yet can make or break the deal.


You are face-to-face: use it The presentation is excellent opportunity to work on the emotional side of the client rather than the factual side. In the decision-making process, people almost always decide based on instinct, then post-rationalize a decision based on facts. That intuitive gut-feeling that you need to get right with an customer is almost more important than facts because of the chemistry and energy people try to catch. You are on stage, and the presentation is almost an excuse to figure you out as a person. You’re right there in front of them so they want to see how your relationship with them works. What’s your interaction, your chemistry? What general impression do they get of you as a person? People have read about your company, and now it’s time for them to see who you really are.

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“Gut” buys on emotion

“Head” justifies with facts


About the competition...

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“Competition? They S***K”

Your client might very well ask about your competition, so be careful not to state facts you are unsure of or bash your competitors. The client might know a lot more about your competitors than you do and if you completely brush things off, you might signal to them that you are not very realistic or trustworthy. It is these types of little things between the lines that convey the impression of you and who you are to your audience.


Avoid buzzwords Whenever you ask a salesperson what they are about, many times they simply throw tons of buzzwords at you. They don’t really stick into people’s minds and oftentimes are not very meaningful.

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Below is an example. Salespeople think that because they have only a limited amount of time, they need to load up with all the buzzwords or all the hottest terms in technology, throw them all at you and state that “this is what we are.” After this enormous storm of information nothing actually has really impacted the customer. It was just a lot of noise.


The curse of knowledge While statements such as this may sound insightful to you because it captures the essence of what you do, to your client it just seems generic and very vague.

Think of a piece of music in your head and imagine tapping the tune on the table. For a presenter it makes sense because you have the full context of the orchestra in your head. However, the audience just hears someone tapping on the table since they are missing all of the rich context that you have sitting in your head. Your generic tensecond pitch is exactly like that. To you it makes perfect sense, but to everyone else it doesn’t make sense at all.

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“We help you cut cost, get customers, and reduce churn.”

The book “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath talks about “the curse of knowledge”: The expert cannot explain to the novice.


Creating the right slogan

p tap tapper de tap tap tap tap tapper de tap tap tap

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“We help you cut cost, get customers, and reduce churn.”

This is often the case with slogans, as they are frequently out of context and don’t mean very much. Often you see a version of this when you read the mission statement with which some startups will start a pitch. This has the same effect on the outsider as the symphony example. Mission statements can be very useful, but sometimes only for the people that have been part of creating them. The company has finished thinking about it, looking at every word and every pronoun, it makes total sense, and to them it’s a great summary of their business’s strategy. They think that this is what the company stands for. But to an outsider it will just sound like a due-diligence mission statement generator. The customer won’t understand because it’s not specific.


Creating the right slogan

“10,000 songs in your pocket”

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A revolutionary device that will disrupt the media value chain while delivering a great and seamless customer experience

The perfect example is the almost-cliché slogan by Apple – “10,000 songs in your pocket.” For the same product, however, a strategy consultant or sales manager would instead provide something along the lines of the first statement above. Apple could have said, “We have this great service and it’s going to disrupt the media value chain and bring great benefits to all consumers.” You can easily see the difference between the two statements and how will they speak very differently to the client. Make sure your slogan is very specific - just a snappy and short sentence.


It is not all about me, me, me Once you are in the meeting room and the client is ready for the longer version, don’t begin your pitch with a huge story about your company.

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“Let’s start with a bit about us”

Presenters often start with a flood of information that’s only about themselves: their history, background, and their business. However, the most important part of a sales presentation is to start a dialogue and listen to the client in order to understand what they really want and establish any issues they have. You should not be filling the time with facts about yourself (that probably could have been gotten from other sources) because this takes away from opportunity and meeting time.


Don’t preach to the converted

Finding things to cut What are the things you can cut from your presentation? Definitely things that the client already agrees with – if he or she is in agreement that something is a big issue, it is a waste of time and slides to continually go over the issue and repeat the things your client already knows.

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Instead, try to find out what your customer’s real issues are. Allow the customer to talk about their issues and to be transparent.


Admit your weaknesses

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Talk about your weaknesses

Something to take into account during your presentation is that you should, in fact, acknowledge your weaknesses. Of course you do not want to say that your product is really bad, but you should not go to the other extreme and just talk about your strengths while ignoring the elephant in the room. You’ll have had a great sales meeting and a smooth presentation, but at the end you can be 100% sure that you will not close the sales deal.

Your real audience?

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Multiple audiences

Consider the different audiences you can give your presentation to, particularly in big companies. You are often presenting to the person who is really on board with you, likes your product, or the person who invited you to the sales meeting. That is not the problem – the problem is the other people in the organization who might not necessarily be in the presentation room. So your sales presentation might become a coaching presentation to that one contact you have in the company to enable him or her to tell your story to someone else when you are not in the room. Just keep in mind to design your presentation differently depending on your audience.


Pitch the problem

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Pitch the problem, not the solution

The secret of sales it to convince the customer that there is a problem – this is often a much more powerful method than simply pitching the solution. Show that you completely understand the client’s issues. He or she will more easily accept that you have the right solution to cover the problem. Make sure to consider this when trying to balance the presentation.


Lottery tickets will go mobile

Pitch the problem visually

Flickr/Paul & Jill

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Visualize the problem

Flicker: Paul & Jull

Pitching the problem does not have to utilize only data and figures and bullet points. It can also be done with images and visuals. This picture, for example, shows a queue of people waiting to buy lottery tickets. You could have announced the problem in the form of a sentence on the screen, but you can also use a visual like this one. It almost puts the clients in the street and in order to show them problem that you’re trying to fix. An image like this might just help you sell a mobile lottery solution to a large mobile phone operator.


People always want to follow the crowd. When you pitch to a large company, they are always very interested in your experience in dealing with other companies, so definitely talk about it. However, whenever salespeople use these examples in their presentation, they are often very generic and use the same buzzwords that we saw in the “curse of knowledge” example. So in a sense try to be very specific and very enticing in a language that people can understand in order to make good cases that people can learn from rather than just repeated statements that they have heard many times before. Tweet this eBook

People love to follow the crowd

Real case examples


Maintain momentum

The momentum in a pitch is extremely important. Throughout the presentation you’re building up, you’re adding, you’re adding, you’re adding. There’s a flow of energy that goes through the presentation and you need to make sure that you don’t puncture that balloon of energy. You don’t want to snap the momentum of your presentation and one thing that can do that easily is a demo of your product. Live demos, especially when you only have 30 or 45 minutes to pitch your solution, are extremely high risk because something can always go wrong. If it does, this immediately ruins the momentum and energy of the presentation. It’s much better to do let the customers do the demo on their own time and play around with the product rather than the very first time you present your company to them.

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Watch out with that demo


This number This number $1.3m

This number

X This number

X This number


People often quantify benefits with large and vague numbers such as “we cut savings by millions and millions of dollars.” The client has heard it all before and these fuzzy numbers don’t really say anything. The more interesting factor is the logic behind the numbers and the process you used to calculate it. While the buyer may not believe that they will save exactly $1.3 million, the process will still give the overall big picture. Maybe once you’ve left the meeting room the client will go back to that slide and replace the numbers on the slide with the numbers most relevant to them. You’ve taught the client to think about the savings rather than give point estimates of benefits that he or she may not fully believe. Show some of the background and show some of the meaning behind the numbers.

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This number

How did you get to those?

Want to learn more? One very interesting book on presentation design is called Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. I would purchase the print version instead of the Kindle version so you are able to see the images and photographs that he uses. This is definitely a recommended read if you want to know more about creating slides with large images and few words.

Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath talks about “the curse of knowledge”: The expert cannot explain to the novice.

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Brain Rules is a great work by neuroscientist John Medina, who explains in very clear language the reasons why people remember stories and how visualization works. It’s a very entertaining and informative read.


What is his secret?

It’s a strange contradiction, but you actually have to be completely on top of your content in order to be spontaneous. Spontaneous does not mean winging your presentation. You need to completely know your content and only then will you come across as a great spontaneous presenter.

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Practice, practice, practice

This is probably the most important thing you can do before any sales presentation: rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. It is rumored that Steve Jobs spends three full-time working days rehearsing a big product announcement presentation. Steve jobs is a great presenter and you will be too if you spend three whole days rehearsing your deck. Your presentation will be pretty high quality after all that practice.


Cut off

People getting nervous

Key point

Timing is incredibly important; people like to stick to the amount of time they have budgeted for so don’t run over. There is nothing more annoying to your audience than ignoring the time limit given to you. The worst situation is that you set up the story of your presentation and you have the punch-line at the very end but it never gets delivered. You don’t want to end the presentation without getting to the most important slide or being cut off in the middle of an important point. The biggest lesson here is stick to the timeline and only include the most important messages in your presentation. Tweet this eBook

Planned finish

Stick to the time limit


No “Q&A” on your Q&A slide

It is best to make a final slide with an image of something that you discussed in your presentation and something you want to billboard. You can simply put it up in the back while you take questions just to remind the audience about how great you are and how great your product is. Don’t put the letters Q&A on your final slide. It’s a waste of screen real estate.

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What is the slide that gets the most attention in the entire deck? It’s usually the questions and answer slide. It has just two letters written simply as “Q & A,” and you put it on the projector as it sits there burning into people’s minds for roughly 35 minutes while you take the questions - much longer than any other slide.



Cut buzzw



Images s t e ll u b No




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