The other day, I had a brief sales presentation with Brad Feld, prominent blogger and venture capitalist. We had an interesting conversation about the format of the presentation afterwards and he said, “I should blog about this.” In the interests of beating him to the punch, I thought I would blog about it first, especially given that I just did a slew of posts on presentation approaches.
Let me start by saying that this sales presentation was poor. It was closer to the Deliverable presentation than it was to the sales presentation format given the verbosity of the slides. I had only been working on the deck for a few days and my concepts were not nearly as crisply articulated as they needed to be to close a sale. The result was that there were a lot of ideas expressed textually that did not have that simple conceptual image that conveys them.
At the end of the presentation, Brad’s feedback was, “There was a lot of text on the slide and it was hard to listen to you talk and look at the slides and try to read it all.” One thing I have always done well is not read people slides, yet these slides simply had too much data on them. The result is that he was being asked to consume two different data sources simultaneously. His counsel was, “re-do the slides with 6 words to a slide” – so he was recommending the conference slide approach. My rejoinder was, “I want to be able to leave this behind and have it make sense,” to which he replied, “Have two presentations.”
In retrospect, I think the real issue is that it was simply not my best deck. A better deck, aligned with my “sales presentation techniques”, would probably overcome this objection and yield a more appropriate outcome. 20 words can be read fast. 15 words with an appropriate and easy-to-grasp image is even better. 40 or 50 words on a page, which I sometimes had, is simply being an idiot.
The final mistake I made, particularly for a deck as wordy as this, was attempting to present off a laptop. Now Brad had to squint his eyes to read all this text. If I had delivered a hard copy, which is important if you want a leave-behind, then he may have been able to flip through it and grasp the text on it more easily. Bottom-line, copy is simply easier to digest when you control the pace of flipping and it is printed and sitting in your lap.
The best thing I did: Get out and practice and show the deck to people!