alt text image of a projector

No One Wants a PowerPoint Presentation

No one wants a PowerPoint presentation. No one wants to watch or listen to you speak to 100 slides in your slide deck. No one wants to sit passively while you treat them to an interminable monologue.

But that doesn’t mean the PowerPoint presentations aren’t valuable. On the contrary they’re extraordinarily valuable in helping you give your clients what they really want.

  • Your clients want to understand why they should change, how they should change, and why they should choose you to help them change. Your deck should speak to the “why” of change.
  • Your clients also want to understand what their needs really are and how they best obtain better outcomes and they’re getting now. Your presentation should speak to understanding needs.
  • Your clients and prospects want to understand what options are available to them in achieving those better outcomes. They want to know what the trade-offs are. There are always choices and trade-offs, and you create value in helping explain those trade-offs.
  • Your clients want to know what the risks are. They want to know how to deal with those risks. They want to know how to avoid anything that might cause them more problems and more pain than they have now. Your presentation can mitigate risk.
  • Your clients want to know how you would approach their project and why you would make the choices you make in helping them. They want to understand your values, your ideas, and what it might be like to work with you. This is what the outcomes that your PowerPoint should support.

I once walked into a clients office and he told me not to open my laptop because he didn’t want to presentation. He had 18 questions he wanted answered. The truth is that my PowerPoint would have provided nice visuals to accompany my answers. But he was making his determination as to whether or not to give me the business based on my looking him in the eyes and answering his questions.

It’s important to remember the real purpose of your PowerPoint presentation isn’t to provide a PowerPoint presentation.


What is the real purpose of your PowerPoint presentation?

Are you delivering to meet those needs?

What needs to change?

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  • Linda

    Thank you so much for addressing this Anthony!! You didn’t add that no one wants to hear you read word for word what’s on the PP slide either! They’re a great visual, not a way to document every word of the presentation.
    Sorry, you can tell this is a pet peeve!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Linda. I agree no one wants to hear you read a PPT word-for-word, but sometimes I do put text (especially questions) on slides. Pictures are great metaphors and a lot of fun, but they aren’t too helpful when you give someone a copy of your slide deck.

  • Maegan Anderson

    That’s why you barely need your presentation slides, this serves as your support to the answers you might forget to mention during the presentation. Great points Anthony. It should be just a plain visual aid rather a useful tool. :)

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I like images that support the conversation, Maegan. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Kaptain Mirza

    What is the real purpose of your PowerPoint presentation?
    Purpose is elucidate, elaborate problems and challenges in a visualised projection. Everyday, everyone reads one thing or the other – one has to get creative to put challenges and solutions in one to three slides or 5 maximum in just some great appealing visuals.

    Nobody’s interested in words.

    Are you delivering to meet those needs?
    Well, I try to keep my ideas specific and limited to 3 to 5 slides. I pick the best parts of the presentation out of the whole bunch of solution package and put it right there. Show what they want and ‘yearn’ to see.

    What needs to change?

    The perception of holding the prospects and attendees at hostage and believing they are liking what you’re ‘saying’ and ‘showing.
    Brief, highly visualised and colour balanced – this is the idea.

    Entice and Entertain – clients want catharsis.

  • Richard Lock

    The real tragedy is in the title. You are making a presentation – full stop. Your presentation has a purpose and you are typically seeking to influence your audience to make a decision etc.You then need to find ways to make it engaging and have impact for your audience. This might be with visuals, as they play such an important role in the communication process, but could be many other ways. The fact that people frequently call it a PowerPoint presentation says it all. Guy Kawasaki’s 10:20:30 rule is a really good guide. No more than 10 slides, no longer than 20 minutes and nothing smaller than 30 point font. It’s a killer, but it certainly focuses the mind.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Yeah, it’s about getting the intention and the outcomes right, isn’t it?

  • Michael Bowers

    People do business with people they know and like. If you allow the PowerPoint slides to control interactions your customer won’t get the opportunity to really get to know you.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      That was really the impetus for this post. A salesperson said, “They really want a PowerPoint presentation.” I’m not sure those words have ever escaped from a client’s lips.

  • Al Zabriskie

    What were the 18 questions?

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      All questions about how we would respond to their needs. All answered in the PowerPoint that I didn’t use. But I think he would have liked the supporting images, especially around processes.

  • Laurie Hagedorn

    Nice to meet you from LI and Federal Way – Auburn Connections group. You have made some excellent points here! Needing to use ppts depends on the situation. I feel more information can be shared in some cases while in others it can be confusing, especially if the presenter is just talking and not going along with the slides. That one boggles me and I can even remember the people who have done that! I would rather be remembered in better ways! :)

  • Joby Blume

    I think that’s where a tablet can come in so useful for a small sales meeting.

    If your prospect doesn’t want a presentation, prepare for a Visual Conversation instead. Have short sequences of visual slides that you use as you talk – but let the conversation be guided by your prospect. It’s relatively easy to flick between slides as you talk, and help to explain points with visuals.

    At BrightCarbon we’ve done some interesting work with clients who have deployed iPads to their sales teams to solve the problem you describe so well. Instead of delivering everything in one go, they just show those slides that are appropriate, and their prospects thank them!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Sounds cool, Joby! I like using the iPad as a little reference screen to support the conversation.