How to Create a Killer PowerPoint Presentation – 10 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Your presentation is your most powerful closing tool. You know that. You also know that every sales person confronted with a big sales pitch wants a presentation so compelling, so persuasive, so amazingly unforgettable that by the end of it the audience is sold. Why not?

I’ll tell you why not. I look at sales presentations every day, and I can give you at least 10 reasons why a presentation falls flat. And it is not a failure of PowerPoint. The bloopers I see are made by the “writers” of the presentation, either because they have no idea how adults hear, see, and process information, or because they don’t have the time or the creativity to do it right, or because they just don’t care.

PowerPoint is a foolproof software. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a fool of yourself when you use it; you can. It does mean that anyone can use it–and use it well–if you know what constitutes a good PowerPoint presentation. Whether you are in sales, education or service, whether you are a professional or a once-in-a-while presenter, it isn’t smart to annoy your audience or put them to sleep. You want them to sit up and take notice.

Here are 10 presentation mistakes I see most commonly. Avoid them and create a killer presentation.

1. There is no clear message.

The presentation is full of content but the message is unclear. There is lots of information, but what does it mean? If the audience was asked to state the message in one sentence, they wouldn’t have a clue.

FYI, your message is a strong statement of fact. It is the one most important thing you want your audience to remember if they forget everything else. It’s true that your message should never be written in full on the screen because the presenter will say it at the opening and again at the close–as well as several times throughout the presentation.  Nevertheless your audience should be able to discern your message from the slides they see.

For example, your message might be something like: we build the best cars in the universe. Or, our software protects your privacy. Or you can count on us to grow your money. Whatever it is, your slides should reinforce your message and your message should be clear from your slides.

2. There are too many slides.

A listening audience has a finite attention span. When you expose them to too much information, they lose track of where you are and what you are saying. Very quickly, they tune out and turn off because they have lost interest. It’s awfully hard to be a great presenter when nobody is listening.

3. The script is written on the screen.

An audience stops paying attention to a speaker when they begin to read. Plus, they are annoyed because if you simply wanted them to read, why did you ask them to come? You could have mailed it in. Moreover, a presenter reads more slowly aloud than an audience who is reading to themselves–and that creates a cognitive dissonance. So in addition to being bored silly, the audience becomes unhappy with the presenter.

4. There are too many words on each slide.

Never mind that PowerPoint has a “handout” version. Let your kids use that function for their classwork if they wish. But what goes on the screen is not for your handouts. Ever. Your handouts should be reader-friendly documents that reinforce the presenter’s message–not short-cuts to proper preparation. A good rule of thumb is: 3 to 6 words on a slide. Period.

5. The presentation amounts to an information dump.

Too much information makes all of it instantly forgettable. An audience needs two or three–no more than four– important ideas to remember. Give them more, and you may as well stay home and present in the shower.

6. There is no obvious organization.

These are the presentations where the presenter is likely to say: so the first thing is. And the next thing is. And another thing is. And so on. When organization of the presentation is not instantly obvious, the listeners don’t trust themselves to follow along, so they don’t even try. Of course, that means they lose trust in the presenter too.

If you want your audience to sit up and listen, you’ll need to organize your pitch simply and logically–ideally into 3 clear topics your audience will easily remember.

7. There is no graphic appeal and no originality.

Either the presentation is on a white background (to save color printing for handouts–which a presentation is not meant to be) or there is no visual impact to the slides. The problem could be overlooked if there were only a couple of slides. But when there are dozens, visual appeal is essential.

Of course, if there is no originality on the slides, the audience is left to conclude that you are just like all your competitors–and they have seen and heard all this before. They might as well write up their shopping list for next weekend.

8. There are grammatical or spelling mistakes.

Unforgivable and completely avoidable if you use no phrases or sentences on screen.

9. There are too many fancy transitions.

Yes, PowerPoint offers an array of swirling, twirling and eye-popping “transitions” the kids all love. But in a professional presentation, use none of them. That means zilch, nil, nada, zero. Just because you can do it technically doesn’t mean you should. In fact, those transitions physically nauseate most adults and practically guarantee your audience will be looking elsewhere.

10. There is little continuity or cohesiveness.

You know the old joke that says a horse assembled by committee looks like a camel. Sadly, there are too many camels on screen. Perhaps somebody puts in a slide they like from another presentation. Somebody else makes a slide at home and adds it. The marketing department sends you a slide you must use. Then you see a picture you think will fit in and you scan it to use on a slide. Backgrounds are different. Fonts are different. Visuals are different. Presto! A camel!

If you want to engage your audience from the very first word, take note of the 10 most common mistakes I see and avoid them. Make your organization logical, your message clear, and your presentation energetic. Then take pride in delivering presentations that knock ‘em dead.

A Business Presentation for All Seasons?

One of the things I love to do in what spare time I have is to visit large gardens and one of my favourites is Bodnant in North Wales.When we were there recently we saw the most a gorgeous display of flowers. The colours were absolutely amazing and it really made me feel good to see it.

We were at the same gardens last October too and the show was equally stunning but in a different way.

The gardeners take a great deal of trouble to plan their planting so that no matter what time of year you go there the show is amazing.

They plan in advance what is most appropriate for the particular time of year and place in the garden and make sure that things are done in the right order and at the right time so that they get exactly the result they want to achieve. They have a garden for all seasons that presents a beautiful show whenever you attend.

Do you have a business presentation for all seasons? or do you have just one that covers everything?

Do you plan out in advance exactly what needs to go into your business presentation so that you get exactly the result you want whatever the audience?

or do you have just one presentation that is provided for everyone you encounter regardless of who they are or whether it is appropriate at that particular time?

In the same way that it takes time and effort to plan, organise and plant the gardens for a superb display all year round that make people feel better, it takes time and effort to plan, organise and deliver a superb business presentation that engages people every time.

If you want to have a fabulous garden that is worth seeing at all times of the year then the individuals elements have to be chosen carefully. And if you want to have a business presentation that is worth seeing every time then it has to have different components that are appropriate and will engage different audiences in different situations.

If every time I went to Bodnant the display was exactly the same then I probably would only go once or maybe twice but the variety keeps it fresh and memorable.

And it’s the same for business presentations. They need to have variety and be fresh and engaging each time if you want to keep people interested.

I encourage my clients to have a bank of several different business presentations ready to go and here are some of the things you can do to create variety…..

Listen to it from your intended audience’s point of view….. would you want to hear the same thing every time?

Think about how you could tweak one that you already use so that it lasts for

  • 60 secs
  • 5 mins
  • 10 mins
  • 20 mins
  • 30 mins

If you provide a range of services or products then rather than trying to talk about all of them, vary which ones you talk about each time

Have a number of stories to vary the content.

Give different examples each time of successes you have achieved with your clients.

This will give you a number of different components that you can swap around and mix and match and it will keep it fresh for your audience (and you!)…….. and in that way you’ll have a business presentation for all seasons.

Presentation Involves Your Very Vital Career Success

Presentation according to the management guru Riteway Strokon is everything. Your status and rise to fame in your organization depends to a great deal on the presentation of “your castle and domain” that is your office area and space.

Plan your future and work your plan. How can your office scream your power, prestige and success?

First of all no matter what get the office in the “Lucky Corner”. This is the corner diagonal to the door and facing the door. This has the most energy and it is said luck associated with it. Do your very best to get this vital location for your desk.

Next have a view of water within your preview. You can put a picture of a beach or ocean scene in front of you to stimulate wealth, opportunities to grow your career and advancement. Maybe even you can have a water fountain installed in your area.

Be sure to have an open space in front of your desk. It is best to keep your desk clear to keep your desktop clear and not staked with files or papers. If you have to have these stacks onto the side of the desk not in the middle. This shows that you are a person of action and consequence who takes care of things, that you are not a laggard.

In regarding the position of your desk see in your planning if you cannot have a solid wall at your back. This will give the appearance of support and stability. On the wall you can place testaments that scream your success and position. Gather your trophies so to speak – certificates, degrees, awards, customer’s letters etc. Remember if you place them on the wall behind you. Remember that at a distance no one will be able to read them. Riteway notes that at the worst you can always go to your local “Value Village “and purchase some odd plaques or trophies. Awards that are framed are best placed in a red or even gold frame. Remember less can be more so it may be wise to not overdo this trick of instant status. You can even pictures of ships. Ships in many cultures represent the arrival of new opportunities, luck and wealth. These nautical icons can be placed near the doorway to indicate that good luck is sailing in. Note though it is best not to have pictures and paintings of ships in rough seas, storms or being sunk in a naval battle. It is not a wise idea to have a picture or miniature model of the Titanic.

Lastly several point to ponder. You are what you present yourself as to others in many cases as you plan your career advancement up the corporate or organizational structure. Be concerned to wear the corporate colors – for example IBM men were known for their blue suits. Dress one up from your colleagues toward the next level.
Not enough to antagonize yourself as an upstart in their eyes but closer enough to your superiors that they will notice it. Presentation is everything. Take care of the details and the details will take of you – shined shoes, neat office, pressed and neat clothes, clean and orderly office and the details will take care of you.

Lastly use the front door. Too many employees enter the building where they work through the rear door. This will give you the so called “rear treatment “. You should see yourself as a vital important person a credit and contributor to your organization. Always enter through the front door of the office. Enter and leave this way. You will double your career luck and rise to success.