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78 characters. 11 words.  Back in 1999, 17 slides built on this concise headline secured a multi-million-dollar investment that helped launch one of the world’s most powerful companies.

“Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Two Sanford students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, pitched Silicon Valley VC investor John Doerr on the platform that we know today as Google. Doerr’s $11.8 million bought a 12% share in the company and he’s more more than $7 billion today.

Let that sink in. 11 words.  17 slides. $7 billion.

Whether you’re trying to secure seed funding or just selling a prospect on your product or service, it’s probably time to build yourself a better presentation.

Quantify Your Why.

Why are you making this presentation? What do you want the result to be? And how will that result impact your company? If you can’t come up with solid, quantitative answers to these questions, you’re maybe not quite ready to schedule the meeting.

Why are you making this presentation?

“We’re meeting so I can introduce the new spring line to McGillicuddy Inc.”

Try again.

“We’re meeting so I can introduce the new spring line to McGillicuddy Inc. and make a sale.”

Better.

“We’re meeting because McGillicuddy Inc.’s business is flat, and if he can grow sales volume by offering 3 SKUs from our new Spring line, they’ll see increased sales and our business will grow too.”

There it is.

Think about Twitter.

Whether the hyper-focused 140 characters to which Twitter used to restrict us has been a bane or a boon to our communications, only history will tell.  But the length of a typical Twitter message can be a fantastic measure to use to keep your slides concise and your message focused.

As you begin to write your slide, the oft-repeated 1X7X7 rule is a good place to start.

1 concept or idea per slide

7 lines (or fewer) per slide

7 words (or fewer) per line

But even that gives you room to cram almost 50 words onto a slide. The first paragraph in this section is 50 words long.  You can do better.

Instead, look to use the 140-character limit of a typical Tweet as the maximum information on any given slide as your yardstick.

Compare these two.

Follows the 1X7X7 Rule

Follows the Tweet Rule

Read Less, Discuss More.

If you think back on the last three presentations you sat through, at least one of them involved the presenter looking at the screen and reading its text to you. And if it was only one in three, you’re lucky.  Most presentations have decayed into 20-minute-long demonstrations of reading-aloud skills. But presentations aren’t scripts. They’re not even cue cards.

Presentations are meant to back up your pitch with compelling visuals and memorable recaps of key points you want the prospect to remember.  

Put another way, it’s called a presentation because you present. You talk, ask questions, demonstrate, explain. Readings are best restricted to book signings and slam poetry nights at the neighborhood coffee shop.

TIP:

This one’s obvious. Practice, practice, practice.

It’s perfectly permissible to glance at the screen as you advance through the presentation. But once you’ve made that quick look, turn your attention back to whomever you’re practicing with, make eye contact, and present to them.

Why Are You Showing Me This?

Just like every slide and every word should be moving the viewer toward your desired conclusion, every picture, chart, or graph needs to do the same.  As the presenter, you may be perfectly comfortable “just talking through what the sales trend chart shows.”

But what about the person who sees the deck after the meeting and doesn’t have you guiding them through what they’re looking at. It’s your responsibility to make every element in your presentation work for its keep.

One of the best things you can do to make this happen is to think about the headline you’d write for each chart. The headline sets the viewer up and helps give that data you worked so hard to compile a reason for being shown. Tighten up the flabby headings that are currently plaguing your presentations.

“Sales Trendline 3Q2018” is paunchy.  “Sales Decline For 3rd Consecutive Quarter” is punchy. “Color Assortment Spring 2019” is paunchy.  “On-Trend Colors Will Ignite Spring Sales” is punchy.

By thinking through what you want the viewer to know or remember about a given slide as you’re writing, your answer to the question “Why am I showing this?” will make itself clear.

Rethink Your Tools.

Considering all the phases your presentation will pass through— from the first draft to the final pitch that wins the business—the tool you use to build your presentation needs to incorporate an easy-to-use slide builder, built-in sharing and permission management, and a robust asset manager.  And it all needs to be cloud-based to ensure everyone who needs to can get at assets and on-brand materials no matter where they’re connecting from.

Ecos’s online presentation builder delivers all of these features.  By stripping away the numerous unused features of other presentation software packages, Ecos makes it easier and less distracting to focus in on getting the message correct.  Whether you’re writing your presentation from scratch or customizing your core presentation for a new business prospect, Ecos gets out of your way so you can work on what really matters.