Three steps to improve your B2B presentations

Jonathan Branney, marketing executive at Buffalo7, outlines three quick things you can do to drastically improve your presentations

PowerPoint presentations aren’t going anywhere soon. With the application installed on an estimated billion computers worldwide, it’s a ubiquitous communication tool across all areas of business – and that includes marketing.

Whether in B2B or B2C, PowerPoint is the go-to apparatus for pitching new business, launching initiatives, gaining buy-in from stakeholders and reporting on campaigns.

Despite it’s prevalence, most PowerPoint presentations leave a lot to be desired – and while people (as well as some marketing press) love blaming PowerPoint for their bad presentations, it’s improper use that’s the problem.

But all hope isn’t lost – below are 3 actionable steps you can take to immediately and dramatically improve the quality of your B2B presentations.

1. Stick to one point per slide

One mistake that a lot of presenters make is trying to say everything all at once. It’s better to deliver your content by introducing one piece of information at a time, with each leading into the next.

Sticking to one per point slide brings with it a number of key advantages. Doing so means you can focus your audience’s attention, as people tend to be much better at absorbing meaningful sequences of information than trying to process multiple messages simultaneously. Slides with single ideas also form effective prompts to keep you on track.

Additionally, it necessitates an information hierarchy for your content: delivering it one piece at a time means laying it out in a logical order that’s easy to follow. This helps you create an engaging narrative and will bring any omissions to light straight away.

Don’t worry if your volume of slides increases a lot – the amount of core content will be the same, but your presentation with run along more smoothly and with greater momentum.

2. Put visuals at the forefront

Leading on from the last point, you might wonder how you’re going to communicate more complex, conceptual ideas using less text. The answer is by employing relevant, powerful imagery.

Clich├ęd as it is, a picture really is worth a thousand words – just think about how much easier it is to understand something when you see it in action, as opposed to having someone explain it to you. Also, a large number of studies have indicated the effectiveness of visuals in aiding retention.

This is all true for presentations – so let visuals lead your messaging. Choose images that work alongside your content and actually enhance its key features, and don’t shy away from dramatic full-screen images. They often have the practical advantage of ensuring everyone in the room can see them, and you can lay minimal text over them to drive home key messaging in a powerful way.

3. Use data visualisation effectively

When used right, data can do a huge amount to bolster your key messages and add credibility to what you’re saying. But nothing makes eyes glaze over like Excel sheets pasted into PowerPoint.

Of course you want to make use of data to see metrics, plot goals and break down costs. But visualising this quantitative information in an interesting way is extremely important – it adds context and scale, and has even been found to make the material itself more memorable.

The key thing here is to simplify your data points – only include the ones that matter and provide empirical support to your messages (discard anything that isn’t as relevant). Then present them in an exciting way: display key figures in large fonts on their own slides or use a graph that goes beyond the pedestrian formats.