There are a lot of articles on what makes a great sales deck, but most don’t give you practical ways to apply the information.
I have sat through my fair share of presentations and worked in a corporate role that required editing many decks. I’ve fine-tuned my skills by studying some amazing presenters from Bill Clinton to Mark Zuckerberg, and I’ve put together a list of 11 things that will make your deck stand out.
1. Make your slide deck a story
The best presentations are narrative-based stories because they have the most impact. A presentation with a clear beginning, middle, and end brings structure to all your information and allows you to control where people’s attention is.
Every slide should be a stepping stone in your story. It helps to imagine a beginning, a middle, and an end for each slide so you can decide how much information belongs on it. If you have more than three bullet points, put them on separate slides.
2. Use video in your presentation deck if you can afford it
I know not everyone has a budget for video, but if you can it will make a big difference. I’ve seen presentations that were great in text form and terrible as videos, and vice versa.
The message of a presentation is often written into the script before any graphics or images are chosen. So don’t create an amazing video with stunning visuals only to record a monotone voice-over.
3. Use one font and make it big enough to read from far away
Fonts are like people: They each have their personalities, and you need the right ones to create a balanced group. Use only one font – preferably sans serif – for your entire deck and make all your text big enough to read from the back of a room.
Black text on a white background is preferred, but if you are worried about straining people’s eyes then choose dark blue or gray.
4. Put key information in pictures or charts
If your font is too small or too decorative, break up the words with visual elements like charts and stunning images. Check out the Venngage graph maker on their site to help you create some for your presentation.
Use images sparingly – I’ve seen decks that were way too image-heavy and speakers who had too many slides with no images at all – but they can make a real difference if used well.
5. Choose one video style for your sales pitch
You really should avoid cheesy stock photos, random moving shapes, and other gimmicky videos. It’s very rare for a video to be so amazing that it can work in a presentation on its own – use them as punctuation at the end of your story rather than as filler between slides.
Your voice, on the other hand, is fantastic; use it to your advantage.
You don’t need to hire a professional speaker (although that would be ideal); you just need someone who can speak with conviction and clarity. A fast-talking presenter or one who mumbles will lose people’s attention quickly.
6. Use no more than two colors in the sales presentation
Pick two colors that go well together and use them consistently throughout your deck. The background and text should always be the same.
It can be tempting to use a lot of colors, but it confuses people and leaves them with sensory overload rather than making your deck memorable. You want people to remember what you said not how it made them feel.
7. Use specific examples in the product presentation
Don’t say “it’s a great product.” Talk about specific features that make it awesome.
Using specific examples makes your presentation stronger and allows you to connect with the audience better. People remember stories, numbers, and emotions rather than ideas alone.
8. Speak in the singular even if you’re talking about more than one thing
This helps avoid confusion. You want to be clear about what you are saying so your audience won’t have to rewind the video or ask questions during the presentation.
9. Make it short, but not too short
The sweet spot for a sales deck is between 7 and 13 minutes. If yours is shorter than that then people can’t get into their stride – and if it’s longer than that then they might feel like you are dragging it out.
If your deck is more than 15 minutes, you should consider splitting it into two shorter decks so people can take a break halfway through.
10. Practice makes perfect
A video doesn’t have to be 100% perfect to give a good presentation, but you should practice your script before recording. You want to sound natural and fluid so that the audience can understand you even if they don’t have subtitles on, so practice is crucial.
11. Don’t be afraid to show your personality
It’s easier said than done because being yourself in front of a mirror (let alone in front of thousands) is terrifying. But being awkward and unnatural comes across as unprofessional to the audience, so it’s important to be natural even if you have stage fright.
The final version might not live up to the quirky one in your head, but start with what you can do now rather than aiming for perfection. You’ll probably surprise yourself.
By following these 11 steps your sales deck will be a whole lot easier to digest and more likely to be remembered by the audience – not just for how it made them feel, but what you said as well.