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Lyndon Nicholson

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Why presentation training pays off

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Winning business is big business, with companies typically reserving significant budgets for the likes of advertising, websites and CRM systems. Often, though, those investments will only get a company’s foot in the door, with the final decision on a contract made by way of a pitch.

You’d think, therefore, that companies would invest in their pitching abilities too, so as to make sure they don’t fall at the final hurdle. However, it transpires that this isn’t the case. In a recent survey carried out by Buffalo 7, 75% of respondents told us that their companies provide nothing in the way of formal training for delivering pitches and 61% said their companies had no in-house expertise for designing presentations.

Even as a presentation design firm familiar with the typical gaps in our clients’ presentation and pitching abilities, these figures surprised us. In short, companies are turning up to pitch for business unprepared and with badly designed slide-decks. Alarming as that is, we can offer some tips and guidance on how to get your pitches up to scratch and train your staff how to do so.

Know your goal

Before you begin planning any presentation, it’s important to be clear about what you are trying to achieve. There are two main reasons for presenting: to educate and to persuade. Pitching, of course, falls very much under the second of those and this means designing, structuring and delivering your presentation accordingly. This means highlighting benefits and being concise, rather than exploring a topic in depth and pulling out all relevant details.

Craft a compelling story

People understand information easily when it is presented as a story, so every presentation needs a narrative. That can include the standard beginning, middle and end story structure, taking the viewer from the current state of affairs, detailing where things are heading and explaining how you’ll get there. Your slides should use images to reflect your structure and narrative, avoiding large chunks of text in favour of short snippets.

Plan your slides

Don’t dive straight into PowerPoint. As with most things, it’s worth having a plan first. Putting this together doesn’t need to be a lengthy process and it doesn’t need to be especially detailed. You can simply sketch out the structure of your slide-deck and give an idea of the content for each slide. This will help you to pace your presentation and avoid any time-consuming revisions later.

Define your design

It’s useful to have a master slide-deck template to ensure that your presentations are on brand for your company. In addition, though, there are some simple tricks you can use to keep things looking slick. Colour can be used to give different elements contrast; positional repetition of visual elements gives a presentation consistency and the fonts you use for headers and body text should be kept the same from start to finish.

Give yourself time

Finally, and crucially, don’t put yourself under pressure. Ideally you should have finished designing a slide-deck and structuring your presentation a week before you need to deliver it. This gives you time to rehearse your delivery and to make any final tweaks that may be required.

For more presentation advice from Buffalo 7, visit http://buffalo7.co.uk/category/news/

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