Presentation Design – Defending Your Slides

How many times have you found yourself the victim of a sales call?

If ‘victim’ is too strong a word, then how about ‘hostage’? Or maybe merely ‘prisoner’? If you’ve ever been forced to sit through a sales presentation that has you asking yourself, above all, “when will this end?”, then you know what I’m talking about. And one sure way you know you’re likely going to be in trouble is when the salesperson walks into your office carrying a laptop. You see the computer bag, and your first thought is of your brother-in-law walking up your drive with suitcase in hand.

Why do we feel like prisoners during the ‘dynamic’ discourse that accompanies the flying words and paragraphs describing how life just can’t go on without our buying this super new product or service? Because for the most part, the slides that make up the sales presentation are not designed to enhance your experience – they’re designed to walk the salesperson through his spiel. In fact, the slides are often designed by the salesperson’s manager as a way to ensure she will cover all the features that management deem essential to the sale.

PowerPoint does a great job of providing the memory-challenged salesperson with a structured way to remember everything he’s supposed to convey to the prospect, but usually at the cost of the prospect’s attention – or worse, his consciousness. And although its probably true that in many cases the prospect has been know to say ‘yes’ just to avoid having to sit through one more slide, the track record for most laptop sales presentations is not good. The negative experience of feeling prisoner to the 100+ slide deck more often counteracts any of the benefits that the sales-centric set of slides tries to show.

These days, PowerPoint is consistently called upon to perform tasks for which it was never designed. PowerPoint 1.0 was launched in April 1987, a Macintosh-only product that allowed non-programmers to put together simple black-and-white overheads without the need for a corporate graphics department. Dennis Austin, a software developer who was one of the originators of “Presenter”, the program that would soon become PowerPoint, recalls finding an old business plan from that time describing the concept behind the new software. One phrase read, “Allows the content-originator to control the presentation.”

Later that same year the originators sold the program to Microsoft for cash and stock.

Modern business would never be the same. Immediately, business presenters who had little or no background in design fundamentals were now able to do what thousands of recently empowered “desktop” publishers could do: produce very technically competent garbage.

The software improved over time, and new products made by competing companies offered increasingly sophisticated and sometimes useful enhancements. Eventually, it became apparent to some that instead of simply designing ever more impressive overheads, what this new genre was really all about was its ability to be a means to itself – that the computer was no longer the design machine, the computer was the presentation!

With each new version of computer-based presentation software we would find new ways to dazzle and impress ourselves with words and pictures in the dynamic environment of an LCD screen or projected image. By the time the first Windows95 version came out, Microsoft was touting on the box cover that the software was “For everyone who can’t wait to get a good idea across”. Were they suggesting that instead of taking the time to create good content, we should just use screeching brakes?

And somewhere along the way, the notion that the visuals were supposed to be about the audience, rather than the presenter, was swept away by the breeze of the flying text. By far the majority of the slides that our customers send us for review are crafted to be useful for keeping the presenter on track, period. When we asked a food-processing client of ours if they believed it was really necessary to list all 18 ingredients that went into their new vegetable soup concentrate on this one slide, they replied, “Well, probably not – but it’s the only way our salespeople can remember them”!

To know whether or not any given slide in your presentation deserves to be there, you have to be able to defend each of them like a junk-yard dog lawyer. And to do that, you must be able to make the case that without the slide, the customer’s experience would be lessened.

For example: If you were designing a presentation to sell people on a 7-day Caribbean cruise, you probably would include a slide that listed all the features of the trip. The slide would likely have a set of bullet points like this:

o Spacious, luxury accommodations on-board
o Dine each night to dramatic ocean sunsets
o Visit over 7 exciting ports-of-call
o Day-stops at sunny pristine island beaches
o Free rum drinks and on-board dancing nightly

Your list would serve you well to remember to tell your prospects about all these great reasons to reserve their stateroom now, but what do they do to enhance the audience experience? Actually, a slide like this is totally indefensible.

What your prospects need more is a way to visualize what the trip is all about, and for that you need just that – visuals. So instead of one slide for you, you need at least five slides for them: One with a full-screen picture of their room, one of a happy couple enjoying dinner on the evening deck, and others with great shots of the ports, the beaches, and the nighttime parties. All these images should be good enough to need very little explanatory verbiage from you.

Next presentation, make sure you can defend every slide, every graph, and yes, every bullet point like your life depended on it. Because your sale does.

Gift Baskets Are the Perfect Present For All Occasions

We are always looking for gifts and presents and it can sometimes become difficult to decide what to give on certain occasions. But there is one gift idea that has become quite popular in recent times and this gift idea is to present gift baskets and there is a wide range to choose from.

Gift Baskets are great for a variety of holidays and occasions like new baby birthday, thank you, house warming, sympathy, Mothers and Fathers day. Baskets are designed using delicious gourmet foods and a variety of keepsakes. These baskets are not only fashionable but they are also eco-friendly, as most baskets are made from re-cycled material. These are a perfect way to express thoughts of kindness, friendship and love, to name but a few. These gifts are remembered and treasured because we put the thought and care required into each basket. This a great way to make sure your customers, associates, friends and family know they are appreciated.

Gift baskets include centerpieces, strawberry gift baskets, chocolate gift baskets, plants, fruit gift baskets, flower arrangements from florists, bath product/spa gift baskets , food gift baskets, candy gift baskets, cookie gift baskets, candle gift baskets, wine gift baskets, coffee & aromatherapy gift baskets. These can be either be highly personalized or generic enough that anyone would enjoy receiving them. They are the perfect choice for any number of holidays and other special events throughout the year.

Gourmet gift baskets are dedicated to providing every customer with the perfect basket for every occasion and at just the right price too. Gourmet fruit baskets are easily shared with clients, friends and family. Gourmet gift baskets sport an array of high quality ingredients and generous portions, many of which were created to feed the entire family. Gourmet coffee gift baskets are truly a gift that shows you care.

Corporate gift baskets are apt to let your business clients know that you are grateful for their business or to convey a message to your employees that their hard work is valued. Corporate gift baskets are also a simple, economical way to convey greetings, be it for the holidays or for other corporate occasions.

Unique gift baskets are crafted to reflect your imagination, personal style and give your family, friends and clients something they’ll be talking about long after they receive your gift. Unique gift baskets for every occasion from birthdays to wedding anniversaries to holidays are created just for you.

Each gift basket can be decorated for the occasion you choose or you can use many popular “create your own basket” features that allow you to create that “perfect” gift. For example you can choose from a variety of favorites to help your student celebrate a festive occasion or to simply bring your student a smile when he or she may be homesick. Whether it be a get well gift for a friend, a sympathy gift for a colleague, a thank you gift for a job well done, or a our corporate gift for a client, gift baskets are an all occasion hit that will never disappoint.

You can choose from gourmet foods and beverages, specialty handmade chocolates, indulging bath and spa essentials, candles and fragrances, and much more. For food gift baskets most suppliers use only gourmet gift foods that are high quality and brand name products.

If you have an employee of the month program or other incentive program for workers, send a thank you basket to show your appreciation. Gift baskets help you to create expressions of love, thanks, or appreciation to lovers, friends, family, and co-workers with many personalized gift baskets which are ideal for any occasion, such as birthdays, retirement and religious holidays. And what better way to say “thanks” than with one of the many kinds of unique, personalized expressions of appreciation and gratitude.

You can also give them to welcome your new neighbor, Christmas holidays or to say thank you to someone special. A thank you gift basket can be sent to acknowledge the arrival of a new baby into the world, as a housewarming gift for the family moving into a new home or any number of other special occasions.

Gift Baskets are a unique & original way to express your feelings. Gift baskets are very different than they used to be. These are a thoughtful present for any occasion. Holiday gift baskets are especially appropriate when a group (such as office mates) want to give someone a collective gift. The possibilities for gift baskets are endless, and that’s only half the fun.

Screen Capture Or Live Presentations?

If you have been involved in Internet marketing for a while, or for that matter just a few days, you can fail to have noticed that Video can play a major part in increasing your online presence.

Many people have tried in the past to create an online video, but I’m sure those who have tried will agree, that it is not as simple as some will have you believe. It’s just like anything else, it takes time and practice to get it right, and while I don’t think in all cases you need to produce a Hollywood type production, those who can produce a video with good basic video production techniques will succeed, while others are left behind in their wake.

Screen capture or Live Presentations

SCREEN CAPTURE – What do I mean by screen capture?… Basically it’s a method of recording the visual content of what ever you are doing live on the computer, and once the screen capture software is set up, it’s just a matter of clicking on record and you will start recording a video of what ever you want. Don’t forget you can also add a sound track and voiceover while your recording or later should you wish. This is probably the easiest way to get started with producing a video for viewing both on an internet web site, blog, or even to record for a CD or DVD

LIVE PRESENTATION – This has got to be the hardest of the 2 methods to get right, not only have you got to get the sound just right, you have to make sure you or who ever you are getting to do the live presentation, can actually pull it off.
I’m sure you have, or will see many Internet Marketers trying to do live video presentations themselves. Even those who are comfortable with live audiences such as at a seminar or workshop, just cannot quite cut the mustard when they stand or sit in front of a video camera. There is something that makes a video presenting or live video that is totally alien to most people, and that’s the fact that it’s the most unnatural thing you will ever have to do.

What I mean by that? – you may find yourself in a room alone with just a script to read from or teleprompter, a camcorder or webcam, and you have to speak to camera, just as if you are talking to someone else. It take time and practice, and I’m afraid it’s just a fact that most people simply will never be able to do it successfully, or to a degree that makes the viewer feel comfortable watching.

Recording the sound Live

It’s not always appropriate or necessary to record the sound track at the same time you produce the screen capture. Although many people seam to do this as standard practice, probably to save themselves time. It really is not good for the viewer to have to listen to anyone, no matter how interesting the topic or the person presenting, it’s really annoying to have to listen to all the umms and arrs. So if you can, I would always recommend you record the sound track separate to video.

Another trap that a lot of people fall into, is the belief that you should add the sound after you have recording the video track. This is in fact the hardest way to do it, it may take a little more planning, but the end result will be a much polished and better produced, more professional looking video by first recording the sound track, made up of the presenters voice, sounds effects and any background music.

By doing it in this order you will find the inclusion of still or moving video can easily be added to the audio content at just the right moment in time. At this stage any titles can also be added to enhance the presentation further.