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PowerPoint Density - What is the balance?
I get questions about reseller PowerPoints. Often because of articles from folks like Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki and others about low density and 10 slides.

I am familiar with the "proven" guidelines for effective presentations--having launched Harvard Graphics for Windows, Lotus Freelance, Ashton Tate's Applause and Microsoft PowerPoint (Windows 3.1). Each time I was trained by the actual Product Managers who created the specifications for the app (btw, Seth's comment about "being developed by engineers for them to communicate" is absolutely wrong--Engineers prefer dense documents (and convert PowerPoints into Word documents) and they seldom communicated (more like grunts and groans). :-). (Experience as a Sr. VP Marketing at Motorola).

Instead, most product managers trained us on the rules used to create the templates, and they talked about sizing, density, etc. So I get a little skeptical of those that pretend to know the design parameters--having never been in the meetings with the Product Managers who created them.

In addition, there are several different types of Power Points:

1) Those used to present an idea, concept or emotion by someone who KNOWS his topic really well and has a dynamic presentation style. These would include the executives who show off the latest iPhone, product announcements, etc. These are often very short presentations and the presenter is also charismatic and dynamic (not a drone). These are also the ones giving this advice--since their content is entertaining and insightful, they need very little graphics to convey their points. Look at the old days with the PMA (positive mental attitude) rally with speakers like Zig Ziglar and Tom Hopkins--they didn't have any slides. Look at the "I have a dream" speech and others that had no graphics. These all had great content--but the speaker was the graphic.

The problem is that most folks are not dynamic and would be in trouble if they had "10 slides" that they then spend 1 hour presenting!

It is better to have a lot of slides that this person can glide through (so there is always a graphic or new concept that you cover) that keep paces with their presentation than to talk and talk and talk (into the ground) around a single slide (light or dense in content).

At Motorola, I was told to speak for 45 minutes on the entire product line, the launch, the expectations, etc. I was also told to keep it to 10 slides. Rubbish, I had about 60 without a lot of density, blew through them and kept moving through the material (which was not dense--but conveyed the points) and received accolades that it was the best presentation given. I also believe you should more on the screen than what you say--since we read a LOT faster than we speak and people believe more what you commit to writing.

2) Those who present to TRAIN others. And many times the others are the trainers (train the trainer). These slides have to be self-contained and either has to contain enough density (to a point) or there have to be a lot of slides (with medium density--but they must contain all the material). There is no way a trainer can replicate the material when it was all verbal--they would use these slide decks to train their team when they return.

This is the format for my SaaS presentation, Alliance and Positioning slides that are on the website. Although given at the event, they are still used afterward to remember all the things they have to do, and to train the CEO, etc. on the channel. Sometimes folks still call me to review the concepts (even with the density) with their team (hence the videos on the website).

All three have been presented at conferences (the channel about 25 times, alliances 5 and the positioning 2 times) where the audience rated the speaker on knowledge of the category, content of materials and delivery. I received the #1 highest rating for 20 of the 25 SaaS presentations, tied 3 times and came in 2nd or 3rd the other times (out of about 20 speakers). The Alliance was the #1 highest rated presentation ever given (in 3 years) when delivered to the 49 companies that attended the last SoftwareCEO (Comptia) paid presentation, and positioning came in at #1 (out of 20 speakers). But then again, it was not just the slide decks--it's the fact that I knew what I was talking about (so again, it depends on the speaker, regardless of the content) and I BLOW through my content. When someone asks that I slow down--it is a compliment (because they seldom tell you to speed up when too slow--they just get bored and start checking their email).

3) Those who use the PowerPoint to sell--but also leave it behind so their prospect can sell to the rest of the group. These use often a combination of the above--since they have to have emotion which is what sells, but they have to leave behind enough logic (and a sales tool) to keep it sold--but also help the attendee to sell again internally. First, resellers sell a lot of products and they might NOT know all the critical points to sell from memory. So their slides contain the density to help them remember, but the "short" version is color-coded. They show the slide with more density, but only read what is in a different color. See the attached Bamboo HR. They can then remove some of the text later (when they finally have it down), but this helps them close to starting (or there won't be a later). However, if they leave the longer version behind (we often present to a manager who then has to present to his executive (who couldn't make it to the meeting). We give them the same tip--show the slide, but read-only what is in color. The full dialogue is in the notes within the slide. This way we have enough "cheat sheet" material to help them sell, but we also highlight what they have to "present" it (what is in color) to help with the delivery of denser than normal content.

It is always easier for a reseller to carve it down as they get experience, then to add to it when they don't know the product.

THESE are the type of slides we create.

These guidelines are hard to understand from dynamic speakers--but the dynamic ones will automatically adjust the density to suit their capabilities. But we have to deliver for some of the lowest common denominators--not the dynamos that might suggest otherwise.

I hope this helps.
Ted Finch, CEO
Chanimal, Inc

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PowerPoint Density - What is the balance? - by chanimal - 11-02-2019, 08:59 PM

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