Visual aids – flip charts or laptops for individuals or small groups, projection equipment for larger audiences – can triple customers’ retention of material and cut your presentation time in half. But you have to do sales presentations right.

Start by looking at your presentation as your customer would and asking:

  • Can I absorb this visual within five to eight seconds? Any longer, and you’ve got too much information on a single slide. That will confuse, not clarify.
  • What is the focus point? Is it clear where my eye should go and what I should look at first? Having multiple focus points is a common error when preparing visual presentations.
  • Does each visual communicate a memorable message? Get rid of visuals that are mere window dressing.

Design tips

Design your visuals to support your presentation, not to overpower it. To maximize their effectiveness:

  • Keep yourself in the spotlight. You’re the focus of the presentation, not the visual. Allow your audience to absorb the visual before speaking, then draw their attention back to you.
  • Never use visuals as a crutch. You’re the expert. You have to know your subject matter cold. You’re using visuals to make the information clearer and more memorable and to prompt discussion, not as notes for you to follow.
  • Keep visuals simple. If you make them text-heavy or get into complicated artwork or design, you’ll confuse, and maybe even lose, your audience.
  • Always say more than you show. Limit the content of each slide to a single concept, and never use more than three supporting bullets. Explaining the details is your job.

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