Screen Shot 2013 07 09 at 11.33.35 AM The 8 Laws of PowerPoint Success in Marketing

And speaking about decks… Oh the powerpoint presentation… Much maligned, much feared, much bored of our our skulls watching.

But… We've got to communicate. And often it is my "deck" that goes to my bosses' boss, the VP of something or other and my slides are left to sell or fail. All alone. No reality distortion possible. No influence of my energy, my excitement. And of course no feedback from the VP either. Occasionally I'll get a "she liked it." Most likely I'll learn nothing of the lofty discussions or the VP's expression of approval or boredom.

There are a couple fundamental things to remember when doing your deck that I have learned while building, tweaking and presenting a couple hundred powerpoint decks.

[Before I get into the tips, there is one memorable observation that has stuck with me ever since I heard it. One of my managers [my mentor] was talking about the importance of decks and she said, "If your slide doesn't make it to the VP deck that tells you something." POW! Sure does! And when none of your projects make it into your manager's quarterly summary presentation… Well, the word "toast" comes to mind. As it recently did for my entire team.]

Some of my ideas are not original, actually many of them are taken from studying the following folks. Guy Kawasaki, Edward Tufte, David Armano and are captured in many voices on the following blogs Presentation Zen, 37 Signals and Beyond Bullet Points. And this post The Good, Bad and Ugly of Powerpoint has great links to powerpoint expertise all over the place.

  1. Always have one killer slide [When you get to this slide it is okay to forget your pace and timing, if the discussion is successful this slide can provide you the illustration to make the close.]
  2. Keep the executive's time in mind and focus on their priorities [Usually they don't want to chat, they want the numbers/metrics, the facts to back them up, and the impact on their line of business, period!]
  3. Charts and graphs are pretty but distracting if not simple [If they don't support #2 delete them.]
  4. No more than 4 bullet points per page [Bullet point are your succinct ideas, if you are reading them they are too long and too many.]
  5. One typeface, no more than 2 (maybe 3) weights [Specifically: san-serif or serif, big in slide title, smaller in bullet points, and maybe smaller in sub-bullets, but reference #4 above before using sub-bullets.]
  6. No more than 10 slides [Unless you have all day with your audience you should spend the time presenting not reading your slides. If it IS an all day event then you can have 25 slides.]
  7. Executives like numbers and proof better than opinions [Never has this been more apparent than in my current position. When your audience is full of "experts" you may not have to prove the idea that advertisements within a social community are a risky option, but when the executive is demanding ROI on your community project, you will have to show your research.
  8. If you don't get a slide in the VP's deck you are toast [Any questions on this one?]
  9. BONUS: Explore Slideshare.net: see what decks are trending, being promoted, being downloaded. Learn from the best.

+++ this post has been updated and refreshed from the 2008 version – still good stuff – enjoy your summer +++

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
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