PowerPoint is a common tool for sales presentations (or, less frequently, Keynote). It’s easy to understand why… it’s a very simply way to walk linearly through a presentation. It’s safe.

For all intents, there are two main kinds of presentations sales people make. The first is the capabilities presentation. Those are often locked, not open for much interpretation by a sales team since they are created once and distributed for use (there are always exceptions, especially with sales people). The second is The Pitch. A customized presentation to show how your company meets their needs in a very specific way.

Here, most sales people turn PowerPoint into a crutch. They cram all of the content onto the slides, and then they read it back as they present it. Ug.

Set yourself free. Get that content, almost all of it, off of those slides. Make one very specific point—just one—on each slide. Anything you need to support it should be in the notes section, or in your head. Heck, put it on paper if you need to reference it and are afraid of missing something (and don’t want to fiddle with two monitors and other ways to see your notes during a presentation).

PowerPoint should enhance your pitch, reinforce the main idea, not obscure it so you can read along with your prospect. They’ll thank you (or hate you if you read to them).

It’s basic stuff. Yet I’d guess that 80% of the pitches we work on come to us violating this approach, and it’s the single biggest push-back we get from sales people. “Where did my content go???” We walk them through the new approach, and most see the benefit. The ones who notice the most are the prospects. They’ll thank you for it, hopefully with a sale.