I spent last week working with three new corporate clients. Each one of these companies was full of bright, experienced, and enthusiastic people who were eager to get my reaction to the decks their sales people used. I was shocked to discover that all three decks were more than thirty slides. These decks were full of information my client’s thought would impress their prospective clients about the depth, and breadth of their experience, and their success in delivering their service. Only after they had “wowed” their audiences with how impressive they were did the decks address the audience and it’s needs.
None of the decks discussed client needs and pain points until the tenth slide. That’s right, for the first ten minutes of their presentations these companies talked about themselves.
Can you imagine going on a first date where your suitor talked about themselves for ten minutes before they asked you about yourself? I’d be willing to bet that would be a remarkably short date.
To their credit, these clients all wanted to find a more effective way to present themselves. We started out by asking a key question. “What does your audience most want to hear from you?” All of my client’s could immediately answer. It was clear that they were aware of their prospective client’s needs, they just weren’t addressing them soon enough. The second question we asked was, “What do you want your client to tell someone who wasn’t at the presentation, about what you said?” Again, all of my clients knew the answer.
Armed with this information we embarked on a radical trimming and reordering of their decks. The priorities were to address their client’s needs up front, to make the presentations interactive so that the audience felt they were being talked with not at, and to leave the audience with an emotional connected to the value of my client’s services. We created this emotional connection by ending the presentations with a story that would show, not tell, my client’s audiences that my client could fill their needs.
In each instance, decks that had started out with thirty plus slides, ended up at ten or less slides. In two of the cases, the majority of the slides were replaced by physical demonstrations actively involving the audience. In all three cases, my clients felt liberated. Free of the tyranny of presentations given by rote, they were able to improvise on their pitch as their prospective client’s needs presented themselves.
You too can free yourself. Look at your deck and ask:
- What does my audience need to hear to take the action I want them too?
- How do I best present this statement so that they can remember and repeat it to other decision makers?
- How can I physically involve my audience in my presentation?
- What story can I tell that makes them “feel” my value?
Answer these questions, in this order, and you’ll be on your way to building a short and sweet deck. Of course, I want you to fill that deck with pictures not words, but that’s for another blog, on another day.