PowerPoint can be a powerful tool to illustrate your offerings to prospects or customers. However, my first word of advice concerning PowerPoint is “Don’t start with PowerPoint!” I mean that in the most basic sense. When that software first came out it was recommended that you limit your text to six words per line and five lines per slide. That’s thirty words a slide, which means that an hourlong presentation would be 1,800 words! There are colleges in this country that don’t assign an 1,800-word term paper until you’re a sophomore! And you’re expecting your audience to read a term-paper-length narrative, over your shoulder, while you’re speaking, in a single hour?
Before even thinking about bullet points, lines and words you need to have a story in mind. If you want to perfect the art of storytelling through PowerPoint, I would highly recommend reading Nancy Duarte’s Resonate. She is best known for supplying the visuals for TED Talk presentations and Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.
One of my favorite quotes from that book is, “Campfires have been replaced with projector bulbs, and the power of story has eluded presenters in the workplace.” Storytelling is part of our primitive selves. It’s the way we communicate ideas. When you’re putting together a PowerPoint presentation, you’re proposing a new idea. You’re trying to convince someone of your vision.
So, you need to ask yourself, is your presentation going to be a report or is it going to be like a movie? Ideally it should be somewhere in the middle. It should be convincing and persuasive. It should revolve around the “why.” It should prompt them to take action. The more you know your audience the more you’ll know what to say, how to position the right rewards for the individual or the organization. You’ll know the right way to motivate them.
Please don’t show a PowerPoint that reads like, “These are all our trucks. These are the smiling faces of our employees. These are our warehouses. This is all the stuff we’ve done. Now here is what you should buy from us.” That isn’t going to motivate anyone. They aren’t going to care. It’s about the message and how you reinforce it for them. Keep it simple. Keep it genuine.