January 19

How To Create More Memorable Sales & Marketing Presentation Decks

Effective PowerPoint presentation deck design isn’t just about making your slides look great—you need to engage your buyers, hold their attention, and deliver a clear message they’ll remember and that motivates them to take action.

Look over the last dozen presentation decks you’ve created or sat through and ask yourself: are your presentations up to the task? If not, read on for scientifically proven ways to create decks that help you sell your ideas more effectively.

The 4 Hallmarks of Effective Presentation Deck Designs

Whether you’re creating a pitch deck, sales presentation deck, internal presentation, a briefing deck, or even a virtual selling skills training presentation, if you want your audience to take some kind of action after leaving your presentation, your deck will need to:

  • Grab and hold their attention throughout the entire presentation.
  • Prime their brains to want to engage with, retain and act on your presentation’s information, key points, etc. 
  • Involve your audience in your story, solution, recommendation so that they retain your key messaging and can retell it to others that may need to approve whatever action you’re trying to instigate with your presentation.
  • Produce Precision vs Random Memory creation to ensure the audience retains the key messages you want and need them to recall later in order to ensure action on your ideas. 

6 Proven Effective PowerPoint Deck Design Tips

Contrary to what creatives have been saying (and clients have been ignoring) for decades, great slide deck design isn’t just an art. There are numerous studies available that reinforce the fact that slide design can help as much as it hurts your ability to persuade your audience to act on your recommendations. 

Let’s look at a few key slide deck template design tips to improve your decks immediately. 

A recent B2B Decision Labs study revealed:

There are four universal design rules every slide deck should follow:

  • The more items on your slide deck overlap or touch, the more the brain links them and remembers them. So if you have two pieces of information on a slide that relate or support one another, place them near one another visually. 

  • Our brains prefer visual harmony, so distribute words and images across your slide’s composition. Don’t just randomly place things on the slide to fill space, instead give your audience or sales prospect’s brain something that is purposely and most likely professionally designed. Remember, white space is your friend.

    Take the time to design pleasing visual layouts of information for your presentation slide decks. If necessary due to time constraints or maybe just lack of design skills, hire a professional graphic designer or agency to build your team the ultimate sales deck template, presentation template or pitch book template. The money you’ll invest will pay out many times over as you repeatedly use the resulting PowerPoint template today and in the future.

  • Utilize opposing shapes, colors, and elements to show conceptual contrast between key points or arguments.

  • One Slide = One Point: Once the slide is live, you can’t control where your audience will focus their attention. By only offering one key point per slide, you guarantee each slide will communicate exactly what you want it to. Additionally, our brains prefer certain types of information in a specific order. You should learn those orders and create effectively designed slide sequences to maximize your slide deck’s effectiveness.
    For instance, when presenting a new insight that you want to use as rationale for action, the most effective information sequence is a simple 4-slide sequence: 

    • Slide 1 - Ask a Broad Question:  for instance, someone trying to change their company’s compensation program might ask, “How do you align interests, so everyone benefits?
    • Slide 2 - Provide Key Stats: then present a compelling, likely unknown, stat like, “Recent research found 45% of compensation plans actually lead to the wrong employee behaviors.”
    • Slide 3 - Present Your Big Insight: this is where you reframe the key stats you just referenced into a relevant context for the audience you’re attempting to persuade or sell. In this case, the presenter might say, “That means nearly half of the time your compensation plans are misaligned with your corporate goals.”
    • Slide 4 - Ask a Specific Question: at this point, you prompt audience engagement with your information and idea by asking a specific question based on the stats and big insight you just delivered. So for this example, the presenter might finish the sequence with, “Thinking of your own company, are your compensation plans at odds with the company goals?”

    • Use specific imagery vs abstract or generic to help your audience build a mental picture they’ll retain long after you complete your presentation.
    • Visually & Verbally repeat key message(s) often throughout your presentation. Research shows that your audience will likely only recall 10% of your presentation. By visually and verbally repeating your key message(s) or selling points, you stack the memory deck in your favor. 

How to Prime Your Audience’s Brain To Retain Your Message

We live in a fast paced, interactive world. So it’s no surprise that our audiences have an increased threshold for stimulation. Lean into that and use it to your persuasion advantage.

Leave room for on-slide annotations. On average, only 4% of presenters use slide annotation during their presentation. Thus, the shere uniqueness of the approach will guarantee audience engagement in all three presentation modalities: virtual, hybrid, and in face-to-face presentations.  

Turn fully constructed slides into annotation starter slides.

This can be especially useful in virtual and hybrid presentation modalities given the need to keep visually stimulating a remote audience to maintain attention and engagement throughout your presentation because you’re pulling the audience into the presentation, effectively forcing them to involve themselves in the writing of your presentation.

This is also an EXCELLENT hack when presenting a deck to someone via phone. Instead of sending your finished sales presentation, pitch book or internal slide deck ahead of time and having them follow along during the call, remove key visual and verbal messaging points. Just leave white space where those items used to appear. 

Then, during the call, ask your audience to follow along via the pre-presentation deck you sent them. As you arrive at the new modified slides (the ones where you removed key visual and verbal messaging points) ask them to draw in the information as you deliver it.

B2B Decision Analyst research showed the technique produces amazing results. In one study, they looked at folks who just listened to the presentation via phone, folks who sat through the presentation and could see the talk track (slide deck) the presenter was using and those folks who were asked to draw along while listening to the presentation. 

The folks that directly engaged with the presentation by drawing while listening: 

  • 14% higher scores when asked how unique the presentation was in their mind
  • 13% increase in Precision Memory (ability to recall the key message(s) the presenter wanted them to retain) 
  • 12% increase in persuasion scores

By just asking your audience to draw along with you, you effectively create a more unique, effective and persuasive presentation deck AND it’s actually easier to create because you don’t need to spend so much time designing each of those engagement slides! 

Bonus Plan: you keep your audience from “reading ahead” so they stay focused on you and the information you want them to focus on too. 

Produce Precision vs Random Memory Creation

First, what do I mean by precision vs random memory creation? And why is that important?

Let’s take the second question first. The reason it is so important to create precision vs random memory is due to memory decay. We’re all familiar with this concept, especially those of us in the advertising and marketing world. 

Memory Decay is exactly what it sounds like. As soon as your presentation concludes, your audience has already begun forgetting it. Over time, they’ll end up forgetting most (around 90%) of it and in some cases, if you’ve done an exceptionally poor job of designing and delivering your presentation, they’ll forget all of it. 

Now, truthfully, there is nothing you and I can do about this fact. It’s just human biology. Overall, research has shown that at best, your audience will retain about 10% of all the information you share in your presentation. The question for you is – are you going to actively program that 10% via your presentation design, or are you going to leave it up to the audience to determine on their own? 

This is where Precision Memory comes into play. Precision Memory is the information you want your audience to remember, retell and act upon after your presentation. It’s that 10%. 

On the other hand, Random Memory is all the other information the audience will consume, but truthfully is secondary or could even get in the way of your audience adopting your key message(s). 

Here again, go back and review your last dozen or so slide decks or presentation decks you’ve sat through and ask yourself, what is the 10%? 

Does each deck’s PowerPoint template design clearly and repeatedly communicate the presenter’s 10% they want and more importantly, need you to remember, retell and act upon? 

Chances are, unless you’re a real outlier, the answer is no. And I’m not getting preachy or judgy here… I did the same thing with our Converse Digital presentations along with a few of my keynote and conference breakout presentation decks. 

And that’s why we’ve spent the last few months massively overhauling our standard presentation deck design and I’m systematically overhauling all of my major keynote and conference breakout session deck designs for use in all keynote and conference speaking engagements

Are Your Decks Helping Or Hurting Your Persuasion Efforts?

Curious where your presentation decks fall on that spectrum? 

Just upload one of your decks below, give us 5-working days and we’ll send you a FREE Presentation Communication Effectiveness Evaluation. That’s right, our team of strategists and designers will review your deck and email you a written evaluation along with key design enhancement recommendations. 

Did I mention it’s completely FREE. So what’s stopping you? 

Note: All decks are destroyed after review and all information is kept completely confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside of the core Converse Digital team that analyzes your presentation deck. 

Drag and drop files here

Would you prefer to talk to someone right away about improving the persuasiveness of your PowerPoint presentations? Schedule a Zoom call with me right now and we’ll walk through a few of your presentation decks together.

This post was originally published on Painless Prospecting, the weekly sales and marketing blog created by the fine folks at Converse Digital. If you want to learn how to create, engage in, and convert conversations into new clients and customers, give them a call

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