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.

Learn the Secret of Socratic Presentations

Is it any wonder most people run to avoid network marketers?

One has only to listen to how the network marketing opportunity is presented to see why. Here’s the breakdown of what most mlmers say to the poor would-be recruit:

About the company: “Blah, blah, this is a ten year old company that is already listed on the S & P 500, blah, blah.”
About the product: “Blah, blah, this product will burn off fat faster than a million EZ Bake Ovens on steroids, blah, blah.”
About the compensation plan: “Blah, blah, this plan is a hybrid, super-compensating binary, matrix, break away, thingy plan that forces all the top producers upline into your compensation pool, blah, blah.”
What all these dismal presentations have in common is that they are not about the prospect and what the prospect wants or needs.

Have you ever told someone they could become rich when all they really wanted was to spend more time at home with their family? Not good.

So how do you tell people about your opportunity? You put the focus on what the prospect wants.

John, on the phone, you suggested that you might be interested in starting a home-based business. But before we get into that, perhaps you could tell me what changes you are wanting to make in your life that made you look into home-based business opportunities?

Or
John, I would like to explain a project I’m working on that I think could help a lot of us financially. But before we do that, tell me about your situation and why you think an extra income could make a difference in your life right now?

Or
Jane, I appreciate your meeting with me today. I’ve brought some material here that show what I think is an astoundingly unique opportunity. But before we get started on that, what is your perspective on potentially forming a mutually beneficial partnership?

Or
Sandra, it was very kind of you to meet with us today. We’re here to talk about an exciting opportunity that we believe could make us set financially for the rest of our lives. But before we get started, could you tell us why you agreed to meet with us and what you hope this business might be able to do for you?

Or
Kim, it was very gracious of you to invite me into your home to talk about what I believe is the most exciting business opportunity available today. But before we get into that, tell me about yourself and why you happened to be looking into home-based business opportunities at this time?
Notice that all of these openers invite the prospect to get the ball rolling and talk about themselves and why they indicated at least a little bit of interest.

These questions are called “Socratic Questions,” and I learned the format from a book called, Socratic Selling by Kevin Daley and Emmett Wolfe. I strongly encourage you to go on Amazon and order a copy of this book for yourself.

Socratic questions get the other person to do most of the talking. But also, they invite them to show you what they want.

Why would you waste time talking about your product, the company or the compensation plan to a single mom who just wants to be able to stay home with her kids? Why would you go on and on about anything other than the answer to that person’s needs?

Employ Socratic Questions in your next presentation or one-on-one meeting over a cup of coffee. When you try this method, you will have the feeling that you are gently pulling someone along who wants to be led along anyway.

Contrast that to the feeling you probably associate with your previous presentations in which you are pushing and chasing. There really is a better way.

Small Business Growth Tips – How To Give Yourself The Perfect Christmas Present for Business Growth

Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? While you ponder what to get everyone else, I have a question for you: What are you going to give yourself for Christmas? No, it’s not at all tacky to give something to yourself. In fact, it’s important to do so, especially if you consider what it could do for your small business growth.

Think about it. There are a lot of people who depend on you one way or another, and if you’re not at your best, you won’t be able to be there for them.So on of the best gift you can give everyone else is to take care of yourself.

There is a reason why those airline safety videos tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. And since you’re a business owner, taking care of yourself is also a key to growing your business. In fact, it’s a key to your business’s very survival. And one of the foremost ways to take care of you is to invest in yourself.

Now investing in yourself can take several different forms: You can invest in your physical self — to make sure you’re healthy and full of energy. You can invest in your emotional self and even in your spiritual self, to help yourself function at your peak.

And, of course, you should also invest in your professional self — whether it’s by learning new things or by updating your skills, or preferably both.

So as you do your postmortem review for 2010, think about what worked and what didn’t work as well as you would have liked. Which goals did you achieve and which ones you missed. Think about which skills you may need to brush up on, or which new skills to develop or new information would take you to the next level in 2011. Then decide to invest in yourself to get there.

Sure, it may take a bit of money from your cash flow or reserves, but investing in your business is a fact of life. Just think about the difference some professional improvement could make in your bottom line!

For example, if you upgrade your networking skills and become even 50% more effective, imagine how many more people you’ll connect with that could result in more connections an bring you more business growth.

Or if you learn… how to get more referrals, attract more clients, improve your time efficiency or price your services better…. imagine how much your small business will grow as a result!

So don’t just buy presents for everyone else as you go about your Christmas shopping, this month take some time to assess what you need to develop and invest in yourself as well.