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8 Bonehead Ways to Blow a Presentation

Bonehead Presentation
Sales presentations are hard to do well but easy to screw up. Here are eight sure-fire ways to ensure that your sales presentations fall flat:

  • #1: Dump information on the customer. Don't blab everything you know about the product and hope that something will stick. Fix: Turn the presentation into a compelling story.
  • #2: Try to impress with fancy features. Nobody is going to buy because you spent hours using all the PowerPoint gimcracks. Fix: Make the presentation about your message, not about you.
  • #3: Use a busy background template. A snazzy format with bright colors and shapes overpowers the content on the slides. Fix: Use a simple background that remains in the background.
  • #4: Select fonts that people can't read. Splatter your presentation with boldface, italics and UPPERCASE, in tiny typefaces. Fix: Use Arial or Times New Roman at 24pts or larger.
  • #5: Provide busy, meaningless graphics. One picture may equal a thousand words, but only if that picture makes sense. Fix: Highlight the data point inside the graphic that's crucial.
  • #6: State opinion without supporting data. Unsubstantiated "facts" (like "we're the leading vendor") destroy credibility. Fix: Provide objective backup to every qualitative statement.
  • #7: Use meaningless business jargon. Jargon can be distracting, annoying and often communicates little or nothing. Fix: If you're going to use jargon, make sure it's the customer's jargon, not yours.
  • #8: Tell an irrelevant joke. It's fine to pace a presentation with a joke, but you're not Jerry Seinfeld. Fix: If you must tell a joke, make it short and make sure it reinforces your message.
The above is based upon a conversation with neuroscientist Stephen M. Kosslyn, Chair of the Department of Psychology at Harvard University and author of the recently-published "Clear and to the Point: 8 Psychological Principles for Compelling PowerPoint Presentations."

Readers: What are some other ways to screw up a sales presentation?

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