Designing Powerful Presentations

You can find quite a bit of advice about creating content for presentations, selling more effectively, asking qualifying/closing questions and more, but I wanted to share with you some perspective on the design of PowerPoint documents and give you a few ideas to make your presentations more visually compelling.


Of course, you should learn everything you can about the person you are meeting with and his or her organization to ensure you include applicable content. But you should also visit the website to make sure you are using the current logo (some companies even publish their branding standards online).

Get a sense of the look and feel of the website: is it clean with a lot of white space, jammed with links and information, or mostly images and very few words? The website is a good guideline on how you should structure your presentation.

Something else to look for is any visuals you can adopt for your content. For example, if your prospect has a graphic outlining their quality assurance process, you can adapt the format and add your own points.

Fade into the background

Take your logo off the slide template. I know, it sounds counter-intuitive. But don’t you think your contact will feel much more important if it is all about their company, needs and goals versus yours? You can certainly put your name with a copyright symbol at the bottom to protect confidential information like we do. I have found that this step keeps me focused on what is crucial to the people I meet with versus what I think is important.

Customize as much as possible

Building on the previous point, go beyond pasting a name or logo on the cover slide. For a recent meeting, we took our prospect’s logo and integrated the Affinity Express logo symbol into a completely new design. This was a perfect way to reinforce our capabilities and we impressed a worldwide category leader with this tactic. We also created a visual to address the Affinity Express services they were considering. Think about your business and how you can showcase your specific skills in the design.

Digital Services

Use infographics

The reason PowerPoints have such a bad rep is that people tend to write out their points in complete detail rather than choosing a few select words that will reinforce what you say and remind the prospect what you said later. It’s much better is to develop an image to convey the message. Here is one we developed to show the educational background of our team members. Isn’t this much better than a bulleted list? When you turn words into an infographic, you increase understanding and recall of your content.

Employment infographic

Feature images and links

Photographs are very effective, especially when you show images of your products, people using them and, best of all, customers experiencing the benefits. For Affinity Express, we have a quite a few photos of employees at work on their computers creating digital and print designs. In one glance, you understand what we do. We also show our production facilities. Many decision makers can’t envision our operations in India or the Philippines and it takes just a moment to address any doubts they may have by showing the large, well-appointed and modern sites we occupy.

Screenshots can be helpful as well. We often use images from our order management systems to illustrate the ease of use. You can also embed links to white papers, industry sites, research or any other supporting materials to make your case. We link to our online sample gallery to show the quality of our work without bogging down PowerPoint files with tons of images.

IDEA Screenshot

Incorporate video

Equipment is inexpensive today and there are a broad variety of services that can help you edit to create a professional video that tell stories: showing off your products and featuring your clients raving about how delighted they are. We are in the process of creating videos to show how quickly and easily client salespeople can place orders with us for products like mobile websites and print ads from anywhere—even on an iPad while they are sitting in a client’s office if they choose.

Keep it relevant

If you are re-purposing graphics from another format like a website or brochure, make sure you adapt for the dimensions and orientation of PowerPoint. One of my (many) pet peeves is when people paste in images or photos and cover up the slide template elements like the title, logo, page number, footer, etc. Your graphics should fit into the body of each slide versus violating the frame. The viewer needs to have the template elements repeat with each transition so they can focus on the core visuals and not have to reorient each time. It’s like tuning out the background noise.

In addition, make sure you take the horizontal layout into account. This graphic was in a brochure and we needed to make changes to simplify and make it fill up the space better. With the previous version, it was a challenge to move the viewers’ eyes from left to right and bottom to top (because an upward trend gives a more positive impression). We also experimented with color versus black and white arrows and icons to see which worked best. Mel did a great job and I love the end product.

Affinity Express Workflow infographic

The power of good design was evident at a recent conference Ken Swanson attended. Afterward, he sent me a PDF of what he said was a great presentation. The content had nothing to do with our business but the document was filled with infographics. Although I hadn’t attended the event, the message of each slide jumped right out at me.

There are many elements to making strong PowerPoint presentations but design is critical part of creating a positive impression, getting an important message across and building a relationship with the people you meet and want to convince. Try one or more of these ideas and let me know how they work for you.

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

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