Let’s recap. So far, we’ve talked about planning presentations, using your voice, and sparking audience participation. Now it’s time to talk about wowing your audience with presentation materials.Here’s the thing to remember with presentation materials: they are props, you are the show. A great PowerPoint won’t save you if you shank your delivery. That said a truly bad one makes you a come off like a buffoon. The sweet spot is making it good enough to augment your delivery, but not to spend so much time on it becomes your presentation.
Now PowerPoint isn’t the only presentation material. In some situations slides, video, handouts, and even nothing are better options. However, PowerPoint is the lingua franca of business presentations so that’s where we’ll focus.
As with your complete presentation, planning is the first step. Grab a sheet of paper and map out your slides. Rather than an outline, use a storyboard. If you just throw a bunch of bulleted lists up on the screen why bother? Think about how the visuals will unfold with what you’re saying, as if you’re matching film footage to an audio track.
Once you’ve got a detailed plan, boot up and get started. After you create a few PowerPoint decks, you’ll absorb the most valuable tip for creating great presentations quickly: never throw anything out. It’s always easier to create a presentation from something you’ve done before. Reuse as much as you can. Get to know “Save as,” it’s your friend.
If this is your first time out, start by creating a template using the slide master function. Once you have the template set, your presentations will be consistent from presentation to presentation, from slide to slide, and save you time. Keep the slide master template simple: add your company logo, a pinstripe, and your phone number and Web site, but don’t go overboard. If you add too much it will look cluttered and detract from the message of your slide.
Creating a storyboard is the most time consuming and important step, but there are a few slides that you should include with every presentation that won’t appear in your storyboard.
* Title slide – The title slide captures the theme of your presentation. It can be anything from “Proposal for Company X” to “Thoughts on the Future.” You should also include your name, the date, and the venue if applicable (e.g., 2006 eFinancial World Expo). The title slide will be what the audience sees before you start your presentation and what they see if you distribute your presentation as handout. Think of it as a cover sheet.
* Overview slide – The overview slide tells your audience what to expect from your presentation. Think of it as an executive summary or agenda. When you’re presenting you shouldn’t spend much time here, but it gives your audience a roadmap that will orient them throughout the presentation.
* Concluding slide – This slide should change depending upon the goals of your presentation. If you’re presenting information, it might summarize your conclusions, but if you’re discussing a deal it might be define next steps. In essence this slide, provides the “so what” or “what’s next” for your presentation. In sales contexts, this slide sets the stage for closing the deal.