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How to Massively Reduce the Number of Slides in Your Deck

When your dream client signed on for a presentation, they weren’t expecting that their commitment would include all 4,201 slides in your deck. They were hoping that you would address their needs, share your ideas, and engage them in a dialogue.

If you have to present everything and the kitchen sink, you are really making the decision to present nothing.

Your slide deck needs to create the value your dream client needs and expects. It needs to provide enough value that it gains you the right to ask for the next commitment you need. It needs to open a conversation about how you can move your dream client’s business forward.

Here is how you can eliminate most of the slides in your deck and accomplish these goals.

Eliminate Who We Are

There are times when you need to share your company’s background with your dream client. But those occasions are more rare than you might believe, and there are other methods to provide that information, should your dream client need it.

The slides that show your company’s major milestones from the beginning of time to the present don’t add anything to your value proposition. The organizational chart that starts with your C-level executives doesn’t add any value either (although there may be a good reason to show them the members of the team that will work directly on their account). And unless the list of your locations is part of what’s being considered, it’s not going to do much to rev anybody up.

If you want to provide this information, it’s best provided as a supplemental handouts. If it isn’t necessary, cut it.

Eliminate Most of Your Offerings

Slide decks tend to get cluttered because one dream client asked a question, a slide gets built and added to the deck, and that slide lives in the deck for all eternity—even though it’s irrelevant to most of your dream clients.

The slide deck that you use to present to your dream client doesn’t have to include all of your service offerings, all of your processes and methodologies, or all of the details around your offerings or methodologies.

Here is the rule: Cut the slides that don’t add anything to the value proposition you are presenting now.

Anything That Doesn’t Fit

Have you ever seen a report embedded in a PowerPoint slide? It’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it?

There is content that just doesn’t belong in a slide. It doesn’t fit on a slide. It wasn’t designed for a slide. There really isn’t an effective way to use the information on a slide.

If it wasn’t made for a slide, it isn’t a slide. Cut it. It’s a handout.

Eleven Slides

Cut your slide deck to exactly eleven slides. Start by defining the value proposition of your sales call and your solution. If you had to choose only eleven slides to tell the story you need to tell, which eleven slides would you choose?

To cut slides, you have to ruthlessly determine what is essential to making your presentation valuable to your client, as well as what is essential to you being able to ask for and gain the commitment you need. The more slides you need to create this value, the less likely you have honed in on what is vitally important.

With so few slides (plenty!) you eliminate the opportunity to monologue and you ensure dialogue.

What To Do If You Need More Slides

I know. You’re frightened. What if you need slides that aren’t in your deck? No problem.

One way to ensure you have the slides that you need when you need them is to build a menu of supplemental material and bury your slides after your closing. If you need a few slides to support a point you are making, you have them available and can get to them quickly. But if you don’t need them, they don’t distract you—or your dream client—from your main points.

Go ahead and chop away.

Questions

How much of your presentation is truly necessary to achieving the outcome of your presentation?

Look at each slide. Does it create value for your dream client? Could you make your meaning without that slide?

Which slides in your deck should really be written handouts? What information might be presented in some other way?

Comments

comments

  • http://twitter.com/buildandbalance Michael Neuendorff

    Anthony, You are so on the money here. I have found that 12 slides (okay, I’m over your quota) can usually serve me for a whole hour. And, they don’t need to be filled up with text, but mostly a choice graphic, headline and sub-head.

    That keeps me from ever reading my presentation, forces me to know what I’m talking about, and typically makes the talk more interesting. I do try to pull in the audience as much as possible, which always seems to be a real plus.

    Thanks for the reminder to be a hatchet man with your PPTs!

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Michael! It is about drawing them into the conversation, isn’t it?

  • http://twitter.com/BeckyGaylord Becky Gaylord

    Or…leave the slides behind and move to Prezi. Love this technology! I’ll never go back. Have to see it if you haven’t yet: http://www.Prezi.com
    I love your blog, Anthony, and your posts. But I just had to comment and mention this zooming presentation software. Here’s a Prezi I did on how to use mind mapping to organize thoughts. In this example, I step through how to use mind mapping to write a clear, persuasive memo.
    http://prezi.com/apmefytkowit/write-a-persuasive-clear-memo/

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Becky! I like Prezi, too. I really should spend time working with that tool.

      • http://twitter.com/BeckyGaylord Becky Gaylord

        I also love how they can be downloaded to an iPad and shown anywhere — even on a projector, with just a cute, short adapter cord.
        However, even with Prezi, it’s all about content and streamlining the info. Your recommendations are just as valid on Prezi, in the sense, that a presentation must NOT swell into a data dump of the crap you couldn’t choose to edit out. Totally ineffective. And way too common. Whether with slides — or on other technology!
        Great post!

  • Peter Watts

    Big time fan of slicing out some of those PowerPoints. Thanks for the clear guidance on where to wield the knife :-)

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Slice away!

  • Jay Milton

    Anthony – love the blog and I am a long time RSS subscriber but the first time I have posted here. I wonder how this might be different for me if I am presenting via webinar (not in person) AND I am selling a fairly technical product. So I am curious about your thoughts….

    1) I am all-in on the whole concept of cutting down on our slides (we use Prezi too and love it). But I have found it difficult to do that and still feel like I am adequately explaining our product and what it does. Without being able to see their faces and body language, its hard to recognize if they are “getting it” on the other end.

    2) Along the same lines, we have found it difficult to engage our clients in a dialogue during the presentation for the same reasons – our product is technical in nature and without seeing their face/body language, its difficult to recognize when they might have a question or be confused about something.

    Any thoughts?

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Jay.

      1). Your situation is in some ways different. It’s hard to tell a technical story without using a lot of slides to build your audience’s foundational knowledge. But I don’t think believe eliminates your obligation to try to tell the story in a way that works for your audience. I have seen this done well when the presenter uses a metaphor to relate the idea to something the audience already knows and understands. Maybe you could come up with some clever way to teach the foundational knowledge so you can teach your main points?

      2). It’s so much easier to sell–and present–when you have physical cues. Here’s a couple of ideas. First, if you can use video, do so. I have had trouble with clients feeling comfortable using video, but it’s getting better. Second, make it easy for them to give you the feedback. You might say: “Right now, if your not completely lost, I haven’t done a good enough job yet. Just kidding. You probably have some questions, though. Let’s tackle them.”

      If your prospects don’t have questions, ask the common questions yourself. Some people have trouble admitting they are having trouble following something. You can say: “One of the most common questions we get here is . . . . ” By asking the question yourself, you let them off the hook.

      Hope that helps!

      Anthony