Just a few days ago, I answered a question from a Manta community member about delivering a PowerPoint presentation to a prospective client. They wanted to know the maximum number of PowerPoint slides to use when making a presentation about their company.
Some of the pointers I gave him are below:
- Keep the focus on you, not your PowerPoint. You are the presenter. The focus needs to be on you, not your PowerPoint slides. So work on your message first and then create the slides.
- 2 to 3 minutes per slide is a generally a good rule of thumb. So, if you have a 1-hour meeting scheduled with your prospect and your PowerPoint presentation has 50 slides in it, you had better start pruning the presentation or you will be asked to leave before you are finished.I once had the pleasure of doing a team presentation in front of a very large client with three of my colleagues. One was a department head scheduled to talk about our service and support strategy. One was a regional sales director for sales and major account management. One was a department head for product marketing. Then there was me, a sales engineer. I was scheduled to talk about the solution to a particular challenge that the client was experiencing at that time.We had about 90 minutes of the client’s time. The product-marketing guy went first and spoke strictly from his PowerPoint presentation. After watching the presentation for 30 minutes, I realized that my esteemed colleague was using between 3 and 4 minutes per slide and that he was using the generic marketing presentation, which consisted of 95 slides!
If your client or prospect was gracious enough to give you a period of time to work within, that time is yours to either capitalize or waste. Your prospects may be polite and smile through their displeasure, or they may show overt signs of disinterest such as doodling, falling asleep, and just walking out. But, when the allotted time is done, so are you, regardless of where you are in your presentation.
And whatever you do, don’t say, “Bear with me. I have just a few more slides to cover…”
- Do your sales presentation with 10 slides. This was a rule of thumb suggested by Guy Kawasaki. He came up with this general rule as a suggestion for any entrepreneur looking for seed money from angel investors. He later generalized it even further to encompass people looking for a job.
- Tailor your presentation to your audience. This is where every professional speaker will start. Incidentally, all good sales people start here as well. You are about to stand in front of your audience or you are about to propose a solution to your prospect – what do they want? How will their lives or their company be different from their interactions with you?Before delivering a major presentation, most professional speakers will ask the event coordinator about the group that they will be speaking to in order to understand the points that they need to cover. Good sales people will also conduct an in-depth analysis highlighting their prospects needs before presenting a solution. If you want to be a big hit or you want to make the sale, focus on what your client wants. Anything else is a shot in the dark while spinning on a Lazy Susan turntable.
After posting the answer on the Manta board, I came across this posting from Chelsea Blacker on Search Engine Journal entitled The Perfect SEO Pitch. There are a couple of other items in the post that deal specifically with making presentations, but her point about the number of slides in a presentation re-emphasizes my point: you are in a sales situation. You need to sell. Your PowerPoint slides are there to support your presentation, not prop it up as it limps along.
For additional ideas on using PowerPoint in your presentations, I would suggest picking up a copy of Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson.