PowerPoint Is Killing Your Sales Presentations

PPTStrip away the tech to increase sales effectiveness.

I used to add long columns of numbers once, and I was always correct. I never had to add backwards or have someone else check my math. To this day, I can still look at numbers and ascertain whether they have the correct number of zeros at the end.

Those of us who grew up before the world was dominated by calculators learned the reasons behind calculations. We knew—just by looking—that 1,000 X 1,000 is not 2,000 or 10,000. We might not have known the exact answer, but we knew an incorrect answer when we saw one.

We also learned how to reason, how to communicate, how to question, and how to argue our points of view. This was before the digital world came along and wrecked our communication skills.

How Deprivation Makes Us Smarter

That’s why I was blown away by Jack Malcolm’s post “An Experiment on the Effects of PowerPoint Deprivation,which starts out with a priceless story about Winston Churchill—whose schoolteachers deemed him too unintelligent to learn Greek and Latin, and shunted him into the school’s “English only” program. The result: One of the best English-speaking orators of all time.

Malcolm reasons that just as language deprivation made Churchill a master of the English language, technology deprivation can make us all better communicators. He writes:

Technology is a wonderful thing which can bring tremendous improvements to how we do things – but at the price of losing fundamental skills … I feel lucky that I learned the essentials of public speaking and presenting in the early ‘80s. Before 1987, humanity had not been graced with PowerPoint, so we had to learn how to structure an argument, keep an audience’s attention on ourselves, and paint verbal pictures. We actually had to learn our material, because no one wanted to suffer the dishonor of reading from index cards. We looked people in the eye more, and we learned how to add, subtract or modify content depending on how we sensed the audience was reacting. (Read the rest of the article.)

Malcolm goes on to offer some great tips about only using PowerPoint to enhance your presentation. My favorite: Keep your laptop closed as long as possible.

Talk to Them, Not at Them

I would add that the same goes for demos. In fact, the best demo is no demo. Why? Because decision-makers don’t care how your technology works. They want to hear what it—and you—can do for their businesses. They want you to ask questions about their business challenges, share your expertise, offer solutions, and talk ROI.

Don’t waste your prospects’ time with demos or put them to sleep with PowerPoint slides. Instead have a real business conversation.

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