Before designing slides, plan your sales pitch. To help determine your main objectives, ask yourself the following questions:
The answers to these questions should guide the basic progression of your presentation. Don’t digress too far from your core story by introducing unnecessary tangents or anecdotes. Instead, present
To keep your audience engaged, avoid a “see-and-say” approach in which you plan to read text verbatim from a slide. Think of slides as providing not a literal transcription of your presentation, but a visual complement. This means they should help you elaborate on topics that are introduced, but not exhaustively covered, in your deck. Plan to keep slides brief, limiting each to a single key message or concept. This will keep the pace moving and ensure a logical sequence from one slide to the next.
After outlining your key pitch, build out your slide deck. Remember that it’s not enough to list the features and benefits of your services. You need to convince customers that your business and its values are the right fit for their needs and, to demonstrate that compatibility, you need to do more than play up individual solutions. You need to explain why your organization as a whole deserves their consideration by presenting a comprehensive overview of your core business commitments, including the internal strategic objectives that inform your operational priorities.
To do this, ask yourself the following questions:
Answering these questions will help you build a brand story that gives potential customers a better sense of whether your companies share complementary visions.
But you shouldn’t quickly assemble these foundational attributes in advance of a single presentation. Your audience will sense that you’ve built a brand identity for the special purposes of the pitch if you haven’t spent sufficient time thinking about the long-term goals of your business.
To offer an authentic and compelling brand story, you need to complete a brand engineering exercise capable of giving you actionable insights that propel your business forward. To learn more
Like your website and print collateral, your pitch deck is a primary point of contact for your potential customers and should reflect your professionalism. Its design deserves the same degree of consideration as those other channels and should align with your brand standards. As you design your deck, introduce signature brand components that reflect your values and company ethos. Convey a sense of your brand’s personality by deploying iconography borrowed from your brand’s visual lexicon.
A few other tips to consider when designing your pitch deck:
Jeremy Waite of IBM consulted his organization’s supercomputer, Watson, to learn the secrets of a successful presentation. Here is a partial list of Watson’s design recommendations:
Even if you implement every one of these recommendations, remember that nobody wants to be subjected to a very long presentation. Keep your pitch brief — less than 10 slides if at all
Thanks to Watson, Waite of IBM backs up those ideas with these additional best practices for a successful presentation:
If you’re struggling to implement these recommendations, it’s worth reaching out for professional assistance. As one of the primary modes of exposure to your brand, high-value communications such as a pitch deck deserve a considerable investment of your time and resources. That investment is certain to pay off in additional business.
Suzanne Miller is Senior Vice President of Client Relationships at AvreaFoster.
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