Posted on: 9th May 2017
At Plus Two, the makers of Presentia, we have been developing compelling Bid Presentations for over a decade – this article shares some of our learning and advice.
Most of us involved in selling our organisation’s products / services will be familiar with the following scenario:-
– We receive a request for proposal (RFP) – almost always requiring a detailed response in a tight timescale – followed shortly thereafter by a Presentation.
– We pull together a bid team.
– The bid team works frantically to provide accurate answers to the plethora of questions asked. Hoping that many of the questions have already been answered in previous bids so they can simply cut and paste.
– As the deadline for submission approaches the team put in increasingly long hours as they get things finalized and ready for the review / authorisation process.
– You deliver the response to the RFP with minutes to spare.
– The team collapse exhausted and retires for liquid refreshment!
And only then do they turn their attention to the Presentation which is now only a few days away! So this becomes a rush job by a team that is already jaded. So what typically happens is that the vast majority of the quality effort goes into the RFP rather than the Presentation.
My question is this – is this the best way to win the business? I fully accept that the time has to be spent on the RFP response as if you don’t provide a comprehensive response you won’t be in the game.
However I’ve been in many Presentations where it’s abundantly clear that many in the audience have – how shall I put it – not read or perhaps more charitably not remembered the RFP response. Now I have some sympathy with them – these documents often run to many pages and are rather dry – so it’s very tempting to read the Executive Summary and the Costs section and leave it there!
Generally speaking all the organizations short-listed are all capable of doing the job. Whilst you are normally required to respond to the RFP in a predefined structure this is not normally the case with the Presentation. So the Presentation gives you the opportunity to standout – ensure that your USP’s are clearly articulated – and start to establish relationships with the key people.
Our key point is that the relative importance of the Presentation is often undervalued.
We have helped many clients with Bid Presentations across a wide range of business sectors helping our clients secure multi million multi pound contracts. So we’ve gained huge amount of experience in what it takes to create compelling Presentations.
Some time ago one of our clients was biding for a large 5-year contract worth close to £200m and along with 3 competitors was invited to present their proposal in 30 minutes (which seemed a ridiculously short time given the contract value).
We created the Presentation for them and waited with bated breath to hear how it went. Turns out that they were with the client for 2 hours rather than the 30 minutes allocated – in part as they were so struck by the Presentation. This gave them the opportunity to get their key messages across and to bond with the client personnel. So the Presentation had clearly hit the mark.
And yes they won the contract!
So in summary the generalized advice we would give is as follows:-
If you would like some help with your next bid why not give us a call on 0203 239 2422 – you have nothing to lose but plenty to win!
See examples of our presentation design work here
Posted on: 28th April 2017
In business most of us at some point in our career ends up making presentations – for some business roles like Sales it’s a regular occurrence. Some Presentations are very formal others are more informal and interactive – closer to a structured fireside chat.
But they are all about helping to communicate information in a way that positively informs and influences the recipients.
At the risk of generalizing Business presentations fall into 2 main types:
The first is principally a ‘one way’ communication. For example a presentation by the Chairman at a company AGM informing analysts / shareholders in how the business is performing. In this situation the path through the presentation is linear – starting at slide 1 and progressing through to the end slide. This form of presentation is about transmitting information and does not in itself allow for relationship building. In this particular context this would be more down to the Q/A session at the end of the presentation.
The second is ‘two-way’ where the objective is to use the presentation as an aid to structure something closer to a conversation. Many sales situations take this form. The salesperson may have a limited understanding of the customer’s requirement, and is using the opportunity to establish what mutual areas of interest exist and is also seeking to build or consolidate the relationship.
To facilitate this meeting (in person or virtual) the salesperson may well have put together a presentation based upon their understanding. But recognize that course of the meeting needs to define sequencing of the slides as areas of interest become apparent.
Indeed it may well be that an area of interest isn’t even covered in the deck. So there may be a need to pull in other presentation material. PowerPoint in spite of it’s moniker ‘Death by..’ is like it or not the tool that most people use for business presentations. However PowerPoint is hardly inspiring for ‘one way’ communications but for ‘two way’ it simply doesn’t get near the mark.
So when we created Presentia our Presentation Management Tool – as the alternative to PowerPoint – we focused on the needs of Business Users and looked to create a tool that worked for all types of Presentations.
The result is a tool that allows you to:
– move in an elegant non linear way through your presentation. Simply dropping into more detail on a particular subject as required.
– have all your Presentations at your fingertips so that you can seamlessly switch into another presentation as the situation requires it with sophisticated keyword searching facilities to quickly get to specific content.
– quickly and simply build a customized deck from existing presentations adding in new slides consistently where required so that the pitch to the customer or prospect is fine tuned.
In essence a tool that has the all flexibility that Sales people need.
Posted on: 4th October 2016
Capturing your audience’s attention at the beginning of your presentation is critical to its overall success…and for converting a prospect to a customer. It’s imperative that you’re able to drive interest right from the start so those listening are switched on and engaged with what you’re saying… and selling.
Doing so means using powerful presentation openers that help you hit the ground running. So what makes a good presentation opener?
Good presentation openers set the tone and agenda for what is to follow. They get your prospects prepared for what’s next and help make them more receptive to the presentation messaging you’ll subsequently build and your sales proposition.
But exactly what’s the best way to open your presentation? Well, there’s no simple answer to this. Choosing the right opening for your presentation will depend on its objective, tone and content. Consider the 5 types of presentation openers below and choose one most appropriate for your message:-
1.) Share a Statistic
You might not think it at first, but numbers can have real dramatic power when they’re delivered well. This is why Infographics are so popular these days online.
Of course, you don’t want to splurge all your most important data on your prospects from the start. You’ll want to build a crescendo of messaging towards those reveals later. But a surprising or impressive statistic can help hook the prospect’s attention. The more shocking or mind-blowing it is, the better.
To avoid confused stares from your audience, it’s important you position any statistic in the proper context. Don’t just deliver the number on its own: frame it in a way that demonstrates to your audience why it matters.
2.) Ask a Question
Starting off with a question: an oldie but a goodie in the public speaking toolkit, you can use it to heighten prospect engagement by addressing them directly. There are a few ways you can go about opening your presentation with a question. You can use an entirely rhetorical one to get your audience thinking about and reflecting on your topic, or you can seek responses to turn your conversation into a two-way conversation.
Starting with questions helps establish an element of interaction in your presentation.
3.) The Opinion
Does the message running through your presentation point to a conclusion that goes against or refutes the currently accepted school of thinking fro your product or service? Great, then you probably have some prime content for grabbing your prospect’s attention. Lead off with a statement right from the start to arouse curiosity. People will naturally want to find out why you think that way, so you’re in a great position to explain your position using your presentation slides.
4.) The Value Proposition
A good way of hooking your prospects is to think of them already as your customers. They only care about their own needs and priorities, and the whole reason that they agreed to listen to you is because they want to derive value from your presentation and make an informed decision about purchasing your products or services.
You can get them listening closely by acknowledging this fact and letting them know from the beginning exactly what they’ll get out of it. Obviously, don’t promise anything that you can’t deliver on, as this risks damaging your credibility.
5.) The Problem Solver
If your presentation is focused around selling them a product or service then the subject of your presentation is probably aimed at solving some sort of problem for them. So why not open by describing their issues in depth?
Really dig into the pain points that the problem causes – amplify how bad the current situation is and why it needs to be solved by your organisation.
Once your prospects recognise the breadth and depth of their issues you’re in a prime position to solve it with the rest of your presentation, positioning your product or approach as the ‘hero’. Remember that the problem can be one that your prospect directly faces, but can also be one that creates issues for their end customers.
Once you’ve decided on a brilliant opener, check out our tips on how to plan and structure the rest of your presentation.
Posted on: 15th August 2016
Visual storytelling for business presentations is a technique most sales people ignore when they create huge presentation decks of bulleted slides. The following recommendations by our Presentation Design Crew will help you create more effective sales presentations.
What should the first steps be when creating a sales presentation?
Always start with a high-level outline of what you want to cover in a Word doc or using Post-it notes on a wall. You need to build a good structure first that you are happy with before worrying about the design details, layouts and transitions etc.
Think about your close. What do you want the presentation to achieve? What do you want your prospect to take away from this meeting? What are the key points you want them to remember? If you begin with the end slide you can build everything towards those key points…. Oh and don’t leave them with more than three to think about if you want them to remember you and your sales pitch!
What’s a great way to open a presentation?
Start with a question! Start with the focus on them not you. They want to know what is in it for them right from the outset… not the history of your company….not how big you are!
How do I grab their attention?
Create a hook for your presentations. What’s your main point? Your big idea? Try to boil it down to one catchy sentence and position it right at the top of your sales presentations and keep repeating it throughout so it hammers home without being too obvious. Refer back to it to reinforce various points throughout your presentation.
What is the best structure for my presentation?
Build a structure, like a roadmap, and then tell them where you are going “In the next 15 minutes, we’re going to cover XYZ.”
As a good rule of thumb presentations should consist of three sections. Make sure in the middle section you cover the meat on the bones ie key points, case studies, research data. This section needs to lead your prospect from awareness to activation.
Create variety throughout such as market statistics backed up with case studies, photos with text and video stings to add interest.
It’s very important to close your presentation on a high note. Ensure you summarise your offer/proposition for your prospective client and include a specific call to action. Be specific and they should be interested enough to want to know what’s next.
When you are happy with your structure and only then you can consider building the visuals to bring the talking points alive throughout.
Presentations are as much about what you say as what you show. Clarifying a good structure in writing will help inform the visuals to support what you say. Make sure each slide works for you, supplementing what you are saying rather than just duplicating your talking points.
Most sales people must adhere to their company’s brand guidelines and templates. In reality that isn’t always the case! However consistency is key in the way presentations are delivered so there is merit in sticking to you company guidelines as this ensures familiarity with you brand when they look at other collateral such as brochures, websites, proposal documents etc.
How do I creatively work within our brand constraints when creating a presentation?
Sometimes consistency is a good thing. Company fonts, colours, and the templates are set. This gives you the opportunity to focus on the story and less on the design. Nobody bought a product or service purely on the look of the sales persons Powerpoint slides afterall!
Newspapers and magazines have a consistent template each month so what makes each issue different? They add engagement through a really catchy headline, dramatic photos and great relevant content.
Within a corporate presentation template, your creativity comes from your content. The case study stories you tell, the business language you use, and the impact of the images you choose. Look at how simple you can make your bullet points – less is more honestly. How catchy can you make the headings and hook? Grab attention with surprising relevant statistics and data sharing. Shake things up a bit!
Keep it simple. Use big, full-frame images and keep text to a minimum for the best impact. In terms of composition, try to limit the elements on the page to between 3 and 5. Sometimes just a big headline is enough to convey your point.
Don’t be tempted to fill the page with data to show how what experts you are in your field – this approach turns off prospects very quickly. Think hard about the idea you’re trying to convey with that particular slide. Use a simple chart that has some visual element to it – not just the numbers.
Sometimes, the exact numbers aren’t important and the more important point is the story, the trends, the sentiment.
Simple icons and infographics illustrate a point effectively. Use a smaller icon for the smaller stat, followed by a larger icon to illustrate growth. That tells your story visually without spelling it out over lots of bullets!
In summary if you can tell your story simply, with less information, that’s often the most effective way to go for your sales presentations.
Two great books on presentation structure and storytelling are As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have It Stick, by Peter Meyers and Shann Nix, and Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte.
Posted on: 20th January 2016
We’re often asked to demonstrate how presentations can be improved after our design team have created them in Presentia.
To give you an idea of what our design team can do, here is an example of some un-animated Powerpoint slides provided by Europcar, followed by a video of the slides, repurposed for Presentia.
Please get in touch, if you would like our design team to work some magic on your presentations.
Posted on: 4th December 2015
Here at Presentia Towers we realise your presentations don’t mean to be bad… they’re just designed that way!
We get to see a lot of presentations every month, and let’s face it 90% are shockers! If they weren’t then they wouldn’t be coming to us in the first place to design more effective, engaging and persuasive slides.
Our Presentation Design Team have therefore put together some simple guidelines to help you improve your presentations …. and reduce the needless boredom of sales prospects across the globe. They call this the 10-20-30 Rule.
It’s quite straightforward. Ideally a presentation will have 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and contain no font smaller than size 30.
This 10-20-30 rule applies to any type of presentation e.g. credentials presentations, closing a sale, raising investment, forming a partnership, etc
TEN: This is the optimum number of slides a presentation should contain. This may not cover all eventualities, for example a pitch presentation that is detailed to a particular client requirement. However a normal mortal human being cannot comprehend more than 10 concepts in a meeting.
TWENTY: You should present your 10 slides within 20 minutes. You may well have an hour for the meeting but people turn up late and it’s good to have healthy discussion and question time at the end.
THIRTY: The majority of the presentations sent to our design team have the text at font size 12. As much text as possible is crammed onto each slide… and then the presenter reads it to their prospective customer anyway! As soon as your audience realises you are reading from the slides they start reading ahead as they can read faster than you can speak.
The reason people use a small font is twofold: firstly they don’t know their material well enough so have it all up on the screen as a prompt, and secondly, they think that more text is more convincing.
Force yourself to use no font size smaller than 30 point. Our Presentation Team guarantee it will make your slides better because it requires you to find the most important points and to learn how to convey them well.
If you observe our 10-20-30 Rule for your presentations your audience will definitely thank you for it!
Need help designing the best presentations in the world? Find out more about our Presentation Design Services here