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: 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: 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
Posted on: 21st October 2015
There is much advice for delivering a great presentation and how to capture your audience’s attention, but what you do at the end could make all the difference to your presentation’s impact and success.
An effective finale to a presentation can inspire your audience and leave them with a positive and memorable message.
We’ve taken a look at the best ways to close your next presentation to make sure you leave your audience with a memorable takeaway.
1. Tell them “One More Thing”
An acclaimed public speaker, Steve Jobs was renowned for finishing his presentations with the phrase “one more thing”, to announce a crucial point of his talk. By using this tactic of saving the most surprising or valuable information until the end, you will leave your audience with a memorable finale. And capture the attention of your audience whose minds may have strayed.
2. End with a story
A relatable and relevant story that circles back to the central theme of your talk will help tie up the presentation effectively. Your audience are also more likely to remember genuine stories that add a personal touch to your speech.
3. Ask a question
Provocative questions that lead your audience to contemplate the messages in your presentation are a powerful way to end your talk. Depending on the nature of your talk, you could ask your audience how they might react to a situation related to what you’ve spoken about, or how they could alter their behaviour in relation to your talk. By posing a question you will give your audience the opportunity to think more deeply about your message.
4. Use a quote
Quotes that concisely illustrate your key message can make for a compelling ending to your presentation. Choosing a quote that is attributed to someone recognizable will also add extra weight and resonate further with your audience. Display the quote clearly on screen at the end of your talk.
5. Call everyone to action
If possible, avoid ending your presentation with a Q&A session. Instead, aim to pepper questions & answers throughout your presentation and use your final slide to call your audience to action. Instruct your audience as to what they can do next, and how they can use what you’ve told them in their everyday lives.
Posted on: 4th August 2015
For many of us the prospect of presenting to a room full of people is more than just a little daunting, and yet in the business world few things are more important.
Delivering a great presentation could make all the difference when it comes to winning new business, although public speaking is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone. Take a look at what we think are the top 10 habits of great public speakers.
For many of us the prospect of presenting to a room full of people is more than just a little daunting, and yet in the business world few things are more important.
Delivering a great presentation could make all the difference when it comes to winning new business, although public speaking is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone. Even the best, most seasoned speakers experience stage fright, but by working on good presenting habits you can overcome this and deliver presentations that engage, inspire and persuade your audience.
Here are our top habits to work on to become a better presenter:
Habit 1: Acknowledge nerves
Presenting in front of a room full of people is a nerve-wracking experience and accepting this is crucial to overcoming your stage fright.
Remind yourself that everyone experiences these nerves on occasion, and it’s ok to feel this way. Delivering a presentation does not need to be a grand performance – treat it more like a conversation with your audience.
Habit 2: Focus on your audience
Great presenters are always focused on their audience and not on themselves. How you make your audience feel and the messages that you leave with them are what’s important, and should be where your focus is placed.
Habit 3: Stay on topic
If you’re nervous ahead of delivering your presentation there is a danger of speaking quickly and veering off topic, worrying that you may forget something or get something wrong. Remember to take your time when presenting and only tell your audience what they need to know. Less is more!
Habit 4: Practise
Use your time ahead of your presentation wisely. Familiarise yourself with your slides and practise your delivery until it becomes second nature. Not only will this improve your presentation, it will also give you confidence and help subdue any nerves.
Habit 5: Use colourful, engaging images
When it comes to the slides themselves, images are far more compelling than rows of plain text cluttering up the screen.
Select striking, relevant imagery to compliment and support your key messages, and offer some much-needed variety to your slides. Well-chosen images are paramount in making your presentation stand out and your messages memorable.
Habit 6: Involve your audience
All of us have sat through our share of boring presentations on more than one occasion, forced to listen to dry content delivered at us, rather than discussed with us.
By interacting with your audience you make the whole experience easier on everyone. Getting them involved in the conversation can be easily achieved by asking questions, building-in audience discussion or asking for their opinion with a simple raise of hands.
Habit 7: Use compelling video content
Concise, compelling video content is always well-received by an audience. In a way that is difficult to do with just the spoken word, you can convey a message, evoke emotion and persuade an audience all with a short video clip.
Videos are also a great way of bringing to life otherwise static and unappealing slides to command more attention from your audience.
Habit 8: Demonstrate your expertise
Audiences respond best to speakers who present with confidence and credibility in what they’re saying.
Remember to demonstrate to the audience your expertise and knowledge in your particular topic, and be sure to establish the value in your message.
Habit 9: Make friends with your audience
As a presenter you should make it your business to befriend your audience. Establish the things you have in common, empathise with them, and listen to what they have to say.
By treating your audience as friends you can develop a valuable connection that will allow you to deliver your message more effectively, and leave them feeling positive about your presentation.
Habit 10: Be persuasive
Persuading your audience to agree with your message is the Holy Grail for anyone delivering a presentation.
Deliver your presentation in a way that delves into the underlying benefits for your audience, and be sure to tailor what you’re saying to them and their needs.
Habits are routine actions, many of which are performed unconsciously by us on a daily basis. When it comes to delivering presentations, by working on developing these new habits you can transform your presentation skills forever.
Posted on: 15th April 2015
Here is a list of suggestions for what makes a GREAT presentation & what makes a RUBBISH one!
|GREAT PRESENTATIONS:||RUBBISH PRESENTATIONS:|
|• Grab them with an interesting hook to start
• Good voice projection
• Smiling, friendly, natural approach
• Passionate about the theme
• Conversational in tone
• Clear points
• Good use of supporting visuals
• Use video to reinforce points
• Simple design
• Have one clear main point to get across
• Have confident body language
• Punctuate with relevant examples
• Involve your audience
• Take questions and allow time for them
• Keep to time!
• Have a clear conclusion
• Make your audience think
• Include new topical info
• Only include statistics with context
• Explain why not just what
• Change your pace periodically
|• Rambling and slow starting
• Sound like you are reading a script
• Reading lots of text on slides
• No eye contact with your audience
• Seeming unconfident
• Looking bored or disinterested
• Too long or too short!
• Too confusing
• Badly designed visuals
• No clear point to it all
• No examples to back up points
• Facing away from audience at the screen
• Repeats a point too often
• Repeats a point too often!!
• Monotone delivery
• Seeming to be unprepared
• Talking too fast
• Data shared too complex
• Charts are irrelevant to the message
• Charts impossible to read!
• Using industry jargon
• Speaking down to your audience
• Slides contain nothing new
• No flow, just lots of bullet points
• Doesn’t inspire or motivate
Posted on: 12th March 2015
As industries become more competitive and complex, customers have become both more confused and more demanding. As a result, they are likely to listen to a well crafted presentation but glaze over to a dull, boring ‘Powerpointy’ one!
Why do Prospects Want To See Presentations?
Making presentations in tools such as Powerpoint is about as much fun as a trip to the dentist. And looking and listening to them isn’t a much better. So why do prospective customers still expect them?
Well the customer needs to compare services from various potential suppliers to make sure they buy the best value solution based on your point of difference and the value you can offer. Putting it simpler, they probably just need to compare costs and get the right information to make a decision – or pass on to the decision maker(s).
Whatever their reasons, the presentation piece has become a common element for winning new business across the globe. Today, all sales professionals are expected to deliver engaging, persuasive and effective presentations that centre around the client’s needs.
So What Goes Into a Winning Sales Presentation?
Your objective in creating a presentation is to provide enough information for your prospects to make an excellent and persuasive case for them to buy your products or services. Sounds easy eh?
If so then why do the huge majority of sales presentations start with the history of YOUR company!? Maybe the sales person creating the presentation thinks that the history of their company is so compelling and important that it will immediately persuade the prospect to buy? Erm….NO!
And why also focus your whole deck of slides on your products/services too? What about how you can help the prospective new client solve a business headache they have or how you can help them plug a gap that is missing your product or solution today?
When we demonstrate our Presentia presentation software to prospects the first thing we talk about is how they currently do their sales presentations before articulating how Presentia will help them with the issues they have today e.g. no brand control, average quality presentations being used that are not up to date and do not project their business in the best light etc.
Effective sales presentations that win new business are customer-centric. Prospects buy your products or services because they have been searching for a solution to their urgent problem in their business.
In our experience, there are four things that all sales presentations must have in them to increase your chances of converting new business:-
The above four points are essential for any sales presentation. Everything you include in your slides must be focussed on one or more of these four points.
Your prospective new client is judging you and your presentation on:-
Will we get what we need from this company?
Can they really deliver it?
Is this the best place to spend my valuable budget?
If you follow this basic presentation structure above then you will see an increase in your sales conversions. But to increase it even further try the following two principles:-
Prospective new clients expect more today. You can’t give them a standard presentation – it needs to be personalised to them. We don’t just mean a title slide with their name and company logo on it either!
You need to demonstrate what you have researched and learnt from previous engagements with them be that on the phone, online, in email, or face to face at credentials meetings.
Share with them personalised insight and relevant content – not generic slides you have used for months/years. Where possible use the language of the customer/their sector throughout.
Primacy in Sales Presentations
What’s this? It’s how we judge future outcomes based on first impressions. Research into Primacy shows that it takes on average at least seven positive experiences to get over one negative one!
So what does this mean for our sales presentations? Put content up front in your sales presentation that your prospect will care about the most. Understand the prospect and then build your presentation structure accordingly. Put that objective your prospect has at number on in your slide structure and then build everything else around how you are the best supplier to solve that objective.
Want to get expert help in creating an effective pitch presentation for a large client opportunity? Give our presentation design team a call today on 0203 239 2422.