(Note from Krista: Yes, those are my dogs and they are giving me their full attention. And no, I wasn't showing them a presentation, but you get the idea. I couldn't resist using this pic on this post! Now on to Julie's article... )
While there is a wealth of information on how to put together a good PowerPoint deck for your sales presentation — right down to the number of words and size of font on each slide, little attention is given on how a presenter can interact with those PPT slides in order to ensure his or her message resonates with the audience.
As technology has gotten more sophisticated, it’s critical that salespeople learn to use PPT and supporting technology to enhance their message and not become their message. The more bells and whistles and videos we start including, the more important it is to remember that at all times you are responsible for managing your audience’s attention.
Following are three of my favorite PPT presentation tips for making sure the focus of your audience is always where you want it to be, when you want it to be there:
1. Use the Black Out Key
Multi-tasking is a myth. People can really only pay attention to one thing at a time and you must decide what that one thing is. Too often I see presenters – even seasoned ones – talking about one topic while there is a photo or a bunch of text relating to something else on the screen. Your audience’s attention is split as they decide what to focus on: you or the screen.
Don’t take this chance. Use the blackout key on your wireless mouse or the “B” key on your keyboard when you’re in PowerPoint to go to black whenever you want your audience to focus on YOU and not on the screen.
This simple adjustment has a big impact on your audience’s attention and makes sure your key messages don’t get lost.
2. Mark Your Projector Lines
Have you ever seen someone give a presentation while half their slide is illuminated like a tattoo across their face? It’s distracting, right? No matter what critical point the presenter may be making, you’re focused on one thought: “Does he know he’s standing in the projector light?”
To avoid this, carry a role of colored duct tape with you and when you are setting up and testing the projector (you do test it, right?) tear off a few pieces and discreetly take a moment to mark off where the projector light starts to pick you up. This is extremely helpful and allows you to move across the stage without getting that tattooed or “halo” effect from the projector.
3. It’s a Pointer…Not a Sparkler
Not just a PowerPoint tip, but for any presentation or demonstration where you are using a screen, I highly recommend using a wireless mouse (or a phone if you want to be really cool). It allows you to walk around freely and connect with your audience and not get trapped behind your laptop where you’re in danger of falling into dreaded “presenter mode.” However, when it comes to the pointer function, I’ve seen very few presenters use it for it’s intended purpose: to point.
More often presenters maneuver it like a kid just handed a sparkler on the 4th of July: they draw quick, sloppy circles around areas on the screen they apparently want us to look at or they quickly dart across the screen and disappear all together before we’ve had a chance to get re-oriented. The whole experience can make your audience feel like a cat chasing that little red dot.
Here’s a best practice: Find the spot you want to highlight on the screen, point your mouse at it, HOLD STEADY and count to five. I know it seems like FOREVER, but keep in mind, your audience has no idea where you are headed so you need to give them a chance to focus and actually take in what you want them to see before you turn it off or move it to another spot.
Although these little tricks may seem simple, they add up to a very professional presentation and a more focused audience that has a greater chance at absorbing your message. One caveat: don’t assume that just because they’re simple they’re easy. Like any new technique, they require some coordination and planning so practice them BEFORE you get in front of your customer or prospect!
For more information about how to create and deliver powerful sales presentations, contact the author of this blog article and Sales Presentations for Dummies , Julie Hansen.