How to turn a presentation into a conversation - radii
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How to turn a presentation into a conversation

It’s always interesting to see client presentations when we start working together. They tend to share two characteristics — one, they manage to squeeze more words, charts and images into one slide that one would think humanly possible, and two, they recycle a lot of content from their website and sales collateral.

Big mistakes.

The 10/20/30 Rule

Guy Kawaski, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur, posted The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint a few years ago. If his rule isn’t as immutable as the law of gravity, it does offer three useful guidelines, no matter what presentation software you’re running these days.

10 slides:

The slides are the backbone of your presentation, not a transcript. You want your audience to focus on you and your message, instead of reading your slides.

20 minutes:

Your prospects have a schedule, so you want to make the most of the time you have with them. If you’re rehashing the points you made in your website, then you’re not talking about the prospect’s specific opportunities and challenges.

I saw this years ago in an agency review, when a former partner went off-script and opened our presentation by singing our praises. He rattled on for 20 minutes until the CEO cut him off, noting that all of this had been covered in their diligence.

He also noted that we’d just burned through 20 minutes of the 60 allotted. We didn’t get the business.

30-point type:

There’s a little flex in this last point, but going with larger type forces you to keep your points short and sweet. Combine a strong visual with a line that focuses on a unique benefit of what you do.

You can always squeeze more support points into a slide, but if you try to emphasize everything, you end up emphasizing nothing. If you’ve done your diligence, you have a good idea of your prospect’s strategy and operations — use your presentation to dial in on solutions for the prospect’s problems and there’s a good chance the meeting can run long.

The link between marketing and business development

Biz dev telescopes out of your marketing — stay true to the value proposition and messaging of your website and other strategies, but move beyond what you can do for types of business or industry. Now’s the time to address what your company can do for this one prospect and why it beats the alternatives.

Take “yes” for an answer and keep moving forward. You’ve secured a meeting, so you know your message has resonance. Use your deck as a platform to turn a presentation into a conversation. You’ll have a better shot at converting your prospect into a customer.

Jay Kirkman

Jay works on the front end of assignments, developing strategies and creative concepts, and writing copy. A self-described "engineering groupie," he thrives on talking to engineers about their work and using their insights in the content we develop.