At CustomShow, we’re really good at creating a presentation software that works for sales and marketing teams. We understand powerpoint alternatives are really what’s needed to make the sale for organizations. But on the other side of our software is presentation design experts who understand how to design beautiful presentations that achieves the objectives of the company. So we decided to go outside of our own firm and reach out to the guys at BrightCarbon. Richard Goring is a managing partner with the firm as well as a co founder.
Tell us a little bit about your business and what you specialize in.
BrightCarbon is a presentation agency. We create incredible visual presentations that use things like animation to help tell compelling stories. When we started off most of what we did was for sales and marketing, but we’re increasingly doing work for other areas like learning and development and corporate communications as well now.
What standardized process do you go through when implementing a presentation strategy for your clients?
Mostly our clients want a presentation, not a presentation strategy. It’s a relatively tactical business. When we do get a chance to be more strategic, we push to help our clients distinguish clearly between what should be on a slide and what the presenter should say, to start thinking about how slides need to actually help people understand key messages, and to focus on the audience and not spend too long talking about themselves. That’s always a good starting point.
It’s hard to standardize our processes too much to be honest, because our clients have such different needs. Some presentations are going to be used once for a large bid, and we know the presenters and they know their audience. Other presentations will be distributed globally, translated, and used by 1000s of sales people. Others won’t ever be presented live, but might just be recorded and used on-demand. So it’s hard to be completely standard in how we do things. In fact, I would probably say that our clients get a great service exactly because we don’t try to make every project the same. What’s constant is that we work really hard to make sure our clients are all delighted. In fact, to make sure that they are, after each project we get in touch and ask if they need edits – after a week, after a month, and after a quarter. If they do, we carry these out without charge. It’s one of the few things about our process that’s completely standardized, and it works really well.
B2B salesmen can oftentimes find it challenging to add creativity and fun to their presentations. How can marketers liven up their B2B presentations and develop a sense of creativity throughout the creation of their presentations?
First of all, I’m not really sure that salespeople should be adding creativity to their presentations. They should be doing what they do best – which is hopefully selling – and leaving the presentation creativity to experts. It’s more productive, and it should bring better results. Plus for a lot of companies, if you’re in marketing or branding, the last thing you want is for sales people to all be getting creative with the presentations you’ve provided.
Marketers need to think about whether they are using a presentation tool as a word processor or as graphics or even an animation package. If you use PowerPoint as a word processor, any attempts to add creativity or fun will most likely be done in a gimmicky way, and look stupid. You know the sort of thing I mean – just putting a crazy stock photo in the corner of a really text-heavy slide to make it look better. If you start creating slides with a pen and paper, and thinking in terms of images and animation sequences, you can be far more creative, and that can actually help you represent the messages you are trying to convey on your slides. You can also take it a step further and start to think not just about the slides, but the way in which you engage with your audience – hyperlinking, sketching, instant feedback, physical props, and physical interaction are all great ideas. I wrote an article on this with some more ideas, but there’s a short video sequence showing it all much better that’s well worth checking out.
What limitations do you find people succumb to when using PowerPoint?
For the typical business person using PowerPoint, the first mistake is to open PowerPoint too early, and to start creating slides before writing a decent story. The second mistake people tend to make is to respond to that irritating prompt that says ‘Click to Add Text’. If PowerPoint said ‘click to insert visual’ it might work a lot better. The third is worrying about slide count as if that’s an important thing, and trying to solve that problem by just putting far too much information on to each slide. To overcome these, start off by using a mind mapping tool, a piece of paper to sketch a (mind map) outline, or Post It notes to determine your content or key themes and then create the structure of your presentation. Then use a blank slide and think about the visual ways to represent your stories, with images, diagrams, and animations. Try to keep the slides slightly simpler (but don’t dumb them down), just so that you have the flexibility to talk for a bit longer, or a bit less time, so that you keep control of how long your presentation lasts for, and make sure that you focus on what your audience actually cares about.
Is there a certain presentation sales outline you recommend for most of your clients in the B2B sales space?
We have a more detailed example of a sales presentation outline on our website, but basically we recommend building an introduction that is in line with some of the Challenger Sale stuff that Dixon and Adamson wrote. Tell it from the audiences’ viewpoint, looking at their challenges, why they haven’t been able to solve those challenges yet – what’s wrong with the typical approaches, and what a true solution to their problem would need to be like. Getting the tone right here can be tough, but it’s a better way to start a presentation than an org chart, a map of your locations, and a client logo slide. Then we use a structure that is based around benefits. Instead of 30 slides, 6 or 7 about each product or feature or whatever, we try to divide the content up by benefit, and then try to prove each benefit. It turns the presentation from being all about you, to all about what you can do for your prospect and why they should choose you. Far more powerful.
What design resources can you share that you use from time to time that really helps bring your presentations to life?
I’m not sure how many of these will be new to your readers, but we do like Shutterstock for photos, textures, and icons; Brands of the World is great for finding vector versions of logos to avoid jagged edges; Lost Type Co-op has some high-quality free fonts – although some presentation tools are absolutely awful for trying to share fonts so beware, and lastly Design Inspiration is a collection of interesting designs that can help for stimulation and inspiration. And of course there are a whole host of presentation resources on the BrightCarbon website to help you put these elements into your slide deck in PowerPoint, craft your story and present it effectively too. As a special bonus to your readers, you can also download a PowerPoint toolkit for free from BrightCarbon, that isn’t on the website, which gives you a number of different elements for presentations and pre-made slides that you can slot into your next presentation.
For more information about Richard, feel free to visit www.brightcarbon.com.
With every good presentation is a good presentation builder that fit the intricacies and identity of your organization. At CustomShow, we believe our presentation software can do just that. View the power of CustomShow in the video below: