By Inka Wibowo

As marketers, we use PowerPoint presentations at multiple points in the buyer’s journey – as digital assets on Slideshare to position with prospective buyers, and in sales meetings with prospects. We also use them internally to train others, and to report on campaign progress. It’s a tool that we use to communicate, and to engage audiences both visually and verbally.

PowerPoint is therefore an undeniably powerful marketing tool. Yet, how many times have you walked away from someone else’s PowerPoint presentation without remembering a single word of what was said?

If you have, it’s not your fault. Many PowerPoint presentations are just plain boring. They’re often poorly structured and overloaded with information, making it hard for audiences to want to pay attention to them.

Delivering sleep-inducing PowerPoint presentations is something we as marketers obviously want to avoid. Instead, we want to deliver presentations that get our message across, and move our audience – whether they’re a prospect, customer, or colleague – closer to where we want them to be. Ultimately, we want to deliver presentations that capture our audience’s interest, and are unforgettable.

Creating unforgettable PowerPoint presentations boils down to two things:

1.     Planning your presentation’s content in a structured way (rather than haphazardly putting it all together); and

2.     Making it as easy as possible for your audience to understand and remember your key message

There are plenty of renowned presenters who apply these principles to their own simple yet clear presentations – Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin and Larry Lessig to name a few – but there is an expert whose style is particularly relevant to B2B.

Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points(BBP) presentation style is based on research around how people process and retain information. According to Cliff, the best way to help audiences remember is to take them on a clear and logical journey. The journey very closely follows the journey that buyers take in B2B:

1. Set the scene by painting a picture of their current situation. If you set the scene properly, you’ll have your audience hooked from the very beginning. Describe what’s happening in the audience’s environment or company, and what their role in it is.

2. Define their problem. What challenge is your audience facing (which your presentation aims to help with)? Think of this challenge as point A. Spelling this out will help you connect with them emotionally.

3. Define where they want to be. What’s the ideal situation for them (Point B?). This will motivate them to want to learn more from you.

4. Give them a call to action early on. A lot of the time we save this for the end of the presentation, but presenting it up front will give the presentation focus. The call to action is simply: what do they need to get from point A to point B?

5. Support this call-to-action with three key points. These are the essence of your presentation, and along with your call-to-action slide will be most important slides. If your audience is going to remember anything, it has to be these four slides. Your three key points should justify your call-to-action, and convince your audience why it’s a good idea.

6. Clarify each of your three key points with explanation slides. If you need to provide more detail (charts, diagrams, case studies etc), do these in additional slides to minimise the amount of content you put on each slide, and to prevent overwhelming your audience.

7. Conclude by restating your call-to-action and three key points. As the most important slides in your presentation (and the ones that need to be remembered), these should be repeated in the conclusion.

As for how to present all this information? The BBP style advocates exactly what its name suggests – that is, going beyond the usual style of building presentations, and removing bullet points completely. Why? Because bullet points are distracting, and are often for the presenter’s benefit rather than the audience’s.

Some handy BBP tips to remember when building your slides are:

  • Feature no more than a headline of text on each slide to keep them free of clutter
  • Keep slides to one minute each – breaking up complex ideas into multiple slides makes them easier for audiences to digest. Each slide should therefore focus on one idea only
  • Reinforce what you’re saying in each slide with a single, relevant image (a photo, screenshot, diagram or even video)
  • Emphasise the most important slides with a different background colour/layout, to make them memorable
  • Insert your notes into the Notes pane, and use them to prompt you when delivering your presentation (rather than relying on the slides themselves)
  • Practice until it’s perfect!

By structuring your presentations according to a journey, and simplifying the slides to make them easier to remember, you’ll greatly improve your chances of persuading your audience to take the next steps with you. For more tips on how to build unforgettable presentations, read our B2B Marketing Blog.