Tips for designing great presentations

We are often asked what makes a great presentation by our clients. How should we structure our credentials or sales pitch presentation?

The majority of companies really struggle with creating good, effective and engaging presentations. Often their PowerPoint slides are jam packed with words, bullet points, cheesy cartoon clipart, bad quality photos ‘borrowed’ from the web, customer logos that are stretched and blown up too big, horrendous mixture of Fonts, colours etc.

I could go on… but let’s focus on our recommendations for making better presentations!

Making Better Presentations.  The best presentations standout in 3 main areas:

1. Content structure
2. Design
3 Delivery

1. Content structure

Think about the purpose of the presentation – we cannot stress this point enough! In fact I’m going to say it again….start by thinking about the purpose of your presentation!

The most common issue we see with company presentations is the purpose. Often presentations are made from pre-existing slides in other presentations and mashed together. In our busy work lives it’s all too easy to take this approach when preparing a presentation and also to leave it until the last minute too! This is bad…very bad.

So many presentations end up being all about you and not about your audience or their requirements/issues etc. Do you really think they want to sit through a stack of slides about your company history, financials, locations, lists of client logos, management structure diagrams etc etc. No they don’t! Think about it this way….how often do you stay in the cinema and watch all the credits to see all the names of the people who were involved in making the movie…not very often I bet.


Putting your customer central to everything you do

So think of the purpose. Why do they want to see our company? Why are our products or services of specific interest to them? How can I make our presentation stand-out from the other Suppliers bidding for their business?

Build the structure about them not you… and you will immediately notice a more engaged attentive audience.

Don’t create too many slides! On average we see PowerPoint presentations from clients between 25 and 80 slides long! Again put yourself in their shoes… would 10 excellently crafted and personalised slides be better than 50 dull PowerPoint ones? YES!

Back to the purpose for your close. What do you want to happen after your presentation meeting? An order? A follow-up meeting? An opportunity to pitch for their business? Whatever outcome you want close by asking that question! Sounds obvious but if you don’t you have missed your best opportunity of moving to stage 2 of your sales opportunity.

2. Design

OK now you have a great structure for your presentation. and you need it to be visually engaging.

Most presentations are designed in the same way. Corporate template, company colours, company font, company logo in the corner.
Again….all about us not the audience! I’m not saying that branding isn’t important, but I’m suggesting that relating the slides to your audience is more important than ramming your corporate identity in their face.


Very subtle company branding. Very good use of space for laying out a case study

However, beware of styling your presentation in your audience’s branding too. Nothing turns of a potential customer more than seeing their own logo being abused!

Important rule to remember when designing a presentation is that the slides support what you are going to say… they are not EVERYTHING you are going to say!

Limit the words on slides. Keep it punchy as a support for you to refer to and elaborate on so the focus remains on you and your company offer. Keeping the words simple and clear is the key to making a good presentation. Elaborate jargon may make you feel clever and ‘on the ball’ but simple plain words ensure your message is understood loud and clear! Less is more!

Punchy text – less is more!

You should give the facts in short text points rather than in paragraphs of words simply because points are easy to read than a paragraph.

A picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes. Pictures aren’t right for all industries but they are one of the most effective tools in a presentation. Relate them to your topic and use the to punctuate the flow of your story structure.


Show them what you do in a picture if you can!

Ensure your text is big enough and a legible colour. At least 12 point size. Nothing worse than a presenter saying “I know you can’t read this at the back of the room”….why did you bother then!


Clear text statements – very nice design reflecting their brand logo

3. Delivery

It’s all in the preparation. Even if you make a lot of presentations to clients every week you still need to prepare.

Before each meeting I look at the client’s website for topical news relevant to them. If I can weave this news into how I relate our services I will. Making a point relevant and real to your audience is an excellent presentation technique. Explaining how your products./services can help address a need you know they have is much better than talking more generally about how great your company is.

Rehearsal. Doesn’t matter how big the meeting is or how often you make presentations, rehearsal is a very good discipline. Rehearsal doesn’t mean do the whole presentation word for word. In can be as simple as running through the structure in your head for 10 minutes thinking through all the potential questions your audience may have.

Oh yes… questions. Always build time for questions. Great presentations always trigger questions from your audience.

Don’t talk too much. Easy mistake to make especially if you are nervous. Make sure what you say is aligned to what you show on the screen (but not word for word…remember slides are a backdrop and not a crutch!)


Nicely balanced slide design – phone bottom right balances pink box top left

Allow time for your audience to take in what you are saying. Let them talk amongst themselves a debate the content of your presentation if they want to….this is all good stuff.

Nerves… don’t worry! Easy to say but everyone gets nervous doing presentations. If you have prepared well and know your topic inside out you will find you can control the nerves and channel them positively to give your best presentation.

Body language is an important factor as is eye contact with as many of your audience as possible. This makes the presentation more successful. Try to avoid reading notes as this is distracting and breaks the connection with your audience. If you prepare and rehearse well then you don’t need any notes.

Millions of presentations are made each day… the majority of them are dull, boring, forgettable, unbearable, irrelevant PowerPoint presentations. 

You can be different!

Need a bit more help designing a great presentation? Please contact our presentation team at our sister agency, Plus Two. They are experts in presentation design and can really make a big difference for your sales presentations.