5 Reasons Why Most Multimedia Presentations Fail to Sell

Posted on October 4, 2009

How many times have you been stuck in a meeting trying to cover your yawns as a salesperson clicks through a boring PowerPoint presentation? How many times have you been that salesperson watching your prospective customer fall asleep halfway through your sales pitch?

There are a lot of mistakes that even experienced salespeople can make when dealing with a new or unfamiliar medium like the multimedia presentation. Following these simple tips will help you create a lasting impression with your prospective client, and best of all, keep them awake.

Mistake #1: Spinning transitions! Zooms! Flashing Lights!

When first confronted with all the neat gizmos and effects available in a multimedia presentation software like PowerPoint, their first impulse is to put as many of those cool spins and flips and flashes into their multimedia presentation as possible, hoping their client will find the effects as scintillating as he does and won’t be able to resist buying.

Wrong! Using several different transitions, fonts, colors, and/or slide formats will only distract your audience, and probably give them all headaches.

The most effective way to capture your audience is to Keep it Short and Simple (K.I.S.S.). Keep your slides consistent, and use transitions and special effects in moderation.

Mistake #2: Use A Different Color For Everything

Color is tricky. Each color has different subconscious connotations, and each of us have our own preferences when it comes to color. A good rule of thumb for using colors effectively in a multimedia presentation is to limit yourself to four or five colors. More than this and your multimedia presentation looks too busy. Less can leave your audience feeling it was too plain.

If you’re using photographs and clipart, don’t count all their colors, but do make sure they contrast comfortably with your background color for visibility. An excellent photograph will do your presentation no good if your audience can’t tell what it’s a photograph of. This goes for the color of your text as well; light text on a dark background or dark text on a light background are essential relationships to remember.

If choosing your colors is giving you a little trouble, find a color wheel. It can be very helpful in clearly showing the relationships between colors and how well the look when placed next to each other. For example, red text on a purple background can be nearly unreadable, but yellow text on a blue background is much clearer.

Mistake #3: Put as Much Text on as Few Slides as Possible

In an effort to provide as much information about their services or products as possible, many salespeople will stuff lengthy paragraphs or long bulleted lists on slide after slide.

This is another mistake that can be solved by KISSing.

Text on each slide should be sparse and large enough to be easily read by everyone in the room. Any type that is projected on a screen (hint hint) should be in a sans serif typeface so that it’s easier to read. Arial is an example of a sans serif font; Times New Roman is a serif font. Any text put on a slide should highlight key points and emphasize—through repetition—what the speaker will be saying. This brings us to—

Mistake #4: Read the Entire Sales Pitch from the Slides

Is it laziness? Nervousness? Whatever the case, it’s insulting to your audience to read the entire multimedia presentation off the slides. They’re in the same room, they can see the screen, and chances are they can probably read it for themselves. Why do they even need you there?

A multimedia presentation is a tool; a visual aid that supports your sales pitch. As the salesperson, you’ll be filling in the details while your slides repeat the main points and statistics. Consider it an outline for what you’ll be speaking about, with special features like animated diagrams and detailed charts.

Mistake #5: Letting the Multimedia Presentation Do All the Talking

It’s tempting to just turn on the multimedia presentation and click through the slides, but how many of your potential clients will still be awake when you turn the lights back on?

It’s important to engage the audience while showing your multimedia presentation. Make eye contact with every person in the room at least once, and keep your overall energy upbeat. If you yawn, others will too.

A good sense of humor can equal a good presentation if used appropriately (test your jokes on a few people beforehand if you’re not sure their suitable for your topic or audience, but remember, better safe than sorry).

Speak with conviction; if you believe in your product or service, others will too (but tone down the technical jargon).

Last, but not least, practice. Practice, practice, practice. It’s the most important key to a selling presentation. Know you product or service inside and out, and be prepared to handle any questions. You might consider offering access to the information on the presentation through a business card CD or standard CD-ROM, with links to your website.

Avoiding these simple mistakes will improve your multimedia presentations drastically. If everyone is awake and attentive when the lights come back up, your pitch has already risen above the competition and made a lasting impression.

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