The 1st 7 Seconds Rule for PowerPoint Presentations

by TedV

As I prepared to speak at last Friday’s Wisconsin Business Owners Network Meeting, I thought about the tons of advice I’d read over the years on how to give a PowerPoint Presentation. I threw away most of those rules and went with the Principles of Relevance Marketing to catch my audience’s attention right away, and then used those concepts to gather their interest in moments.

Shoot the Typical Starting Slide Order in the Head

These are the elements of the first 3 or 4 slides of most business PowerPoint presentations:

1 – Title Slide
2 – Introductions Slide
3 – Org Chart Slide(s) possibly
4 – Agenda Slide

Before the Presentation Pain

Usually before the presentation starts the title slide is on the screen while the people wander in. You’ve rightfully set up and check all the equipment to see if it all works and will be ready to go on time.

But quite often there is just presenting company’s logo, and/or company name, and/or a product name – that’s it. And it sits there during the banalities of people wandering in piecemeal for live events or sporadically signing into the webinar. All during this time the presenting crew chats nervously and the audience is either bored or creeped out to be with sales folks – or both.

Other tedious title slide options might be:

• The 87 Uses for Our Wonder Products
• XYZ Corp. and ABC Co. – A Partnership for the Ages
• Why We’re the Best and Everyone Else Stinks


Finally the Presentation Starts

The speaker clears his throat and then introduces him or herself, and then reads the title page that everyone has been staring at all this time.

Then we have the painful introductions. IBM used to ritualize this with a huge org chart of both the IBM people involved, and another org chart for the people attending.

Then we have the stultifying agenda – proof to the attendees that they should have called in sick.

Just Break This Pattern

Have nothing on the screen. Or have a scenic picture. Or have the logo of the company you’re presenting to and nothing about you.

A favorite of mine is to have a startling statement of some kind that really doesn’t tell anyone what the presentation is about, but has an air of mystery to it.

This will always be a tense time; maybe try playing music. Plan any number of conversation topics where you can get the people that come in or sign on early talking about something they know about, that isn’t about you.

Start with a captivating title. Consult a copywriter or copywriting book about how to write a great headline about the audience.

7 Ways You Can Capture Someone’s Attention Immediately
How You Can Achieve a 12.7% Increase in Revenue within 6 Months
Decreasing Your Pumps’ Electrical Use By 23% in 4 Hours Each
You Only Have Seven Seconds

Talk about the attendees succeeding, not about you, your products, or your company. And never ever, I mean NEVER show a picture of your office or factory – Never.

Create an Agenda Attendees Want to Hear

At the Wisconsin Business Owners Network I spoke on how to drastically improve the odds of their prospects reading their brochures by using the Principles of Relevance Marketing. It was 30 minutes maximum, including a Q&A, and I’d asked the members in advance to bring their own brochures and we’d critique them together.

For the attendees to help with the critique, they’d have to know the basics of Relevance Marketing related to brochures. (To better understand these particular techniques, please see my articles “The 1st 7 Seconds Rule for Brochures Part One and Part Two.)

One of the overall Principles of Relevance Marketing is that most people thing their marketing efforts are relevant, when they aren’t. Illustrating this takes time I didn’t have. I wanted to spend at least 15 of the 30 minutes actually looking at their brochures.

So to start the presentation I told them I had two different agendas. I said that I’d give them both of the agendas and let them choose which we’d follow. Here they are:

Non-Relevant – “All About Me” Agenda
A Non-Relevant PowerPoint Agenda

Relevant – “All About Them” Agenda
A Relevant PowerPoint Agenda

Never just read the bullet points! I spoke to these points in the second agenda and increased the “about them” verbiage.

Of course everyone chose the second agenda. I then pointed out that these agendas both described the same content. I just portrayed it in the first agenda all about me and my services, (poor grammar intended to make my point) and worded the second agenda all about them and how they would benefit.

I was a bit shocked at how few actually realized that’s what I’d done.

That start, and then my two-minute explanation of Relevance Marketing, had the audience ready to accept the three main points of my presentation regarding making their brochures relevant to their prospects. After I showed them two quick examples, we had about 15 minutes to quickly go over their brochures and help the different owners envision how to improve them.

Quite frankly I had wondered if I could pull off this type of presentation – teaching folks the basics in a few minutes and working on live brochures on the spot. I feel like I succeeded – if audience participation and appreciation can be an indicator.

It was particularly rewarding to talk to the three people who’d brought mockups of brochures being created at that moment, and to help them see how to sharpen their focus on specific segments and use words that would make the brochure more about their prospects. That’s what Relevance Marketing is all about – the prospect seeing themselves succeeding with our products and/or services.

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