Sales presentations and 3 power point mistakes

“It’s my own fault for using PowerPoint. PowerPoint is boring.”  Dwight Schrute, The Office

Dwight Schrute, of the comedy series The Office, delivered an unsuccessful  presentation. A presentation that featured a power point loaded with bullet points. While many presentation coaches, and Dwight Schrute, would suggest that the problem with power point is bullet points, I disagree. I believe the issue is actually how the bullet points are used. Bullet points used correctly are a nice visual aid to support your presentation. Bullet points used incorrectly will destroy your presentation faster than almost any other mistake you can make.

So here are the three ways I see bullet points used incorrectly on an all too regular basis.

Dwight Schrute thinks power point is boring

Dwight Schrute, from The Office, thinks power point is boring

Font size. The font for the text on your slide should be big and bold so that everyone in the audience can clearly read your slide. Too often sales people use a font size that works fine when you’re reading off the computer screen but put yourself in the position of your audience. If the prospect is sitting at the end of a conference room table fifteen feet away from your screen projection they will have to squint and struggle to try and make out your text. Then, in frustration, they will give up and tune you out. Presentation guru Guy Kawasaki suggests never using a font size smaller than thirty on your power point slides.

Too wordy. Bullet points should be a key word or a short phrase. Resist the temptation to type out everything you plan to say on your slides. If you do that you might as well just email the deck to the prospect.  As long you’re not reading from your slides (you’re not are you?) then a key word or short phrase is all you, and the audience, should need.

And finally the single biggest mistake I see regarding bullet points (a mistake I’ve seen professional speakers make) is this – never pull up all your bullet points at the same time. If you do I can promise you that the audience will read ahead of you and while you’re explaining point number one they’ll be reading point number three and if point number three is more interesting to them then that’s what they’ll be thinking about until you get there. All of which means they’re not listening to you. So use animation to pull up your bullet points one at a time and that way you control the flow of the conversation.

So let’s not blame power point or bullet points for boring presentations. If we change the way we use the tool itself our power point presentations can be very effective.

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