Getting the most out of PowerPoint: Why the much-derided platform is still a relevant sales enablement tool…


An uninspiring presentation often sees salespeople accused of delivering ‘death by PowerPoint’.

The very nature of this over-used phrase suggests the finger is unfairly being pointed at the presentation platform itself, rather than at the presenters. After all, a bad presentation is a bad presentation, whichever tool it is delivered on. Because of its widespread use, PowerPoint is typically made the scapegoat.

While PowerPoint remains the most prevalent presentation tool in the vast majority of organisations today, it’s popularity has been under threat, with some businesses looking towards alternatives such as Prezi, Google Slides, HaikuDeck and Keynote.

Yet there’s an argument to say that PowerPoint isn’t the problem that needs fixing. That PowerPoint is perfectly capable of delivering ‘creative and interactive’ presentations, if only it’s used in the right way.

Having been around for so long, it’s no surprise that people are tempted to try something different. And there’s an argument to say that PowerPoint’s reputation is perhaps tarnished by the limitations of its earliest versions. But in reality, the latest incarnations of the program offer just as much opportunity for engaging presentations as any other software on the market.

And with every likelihood that you already have access to PowerPoint in your business, maybe it’s time to investigate its true potential before you look to other sales enablement solutions?

Why every organisation has PowerPoint

While it can be popular to right-off existing tools in favour of the ‘next big thing’, PowerPoint is a platform that businesses would be wise to persist with.

Enjoying a high level of adoption all over the world, it is an intuitive program that feels like familiar territory for most users – and that’s not to be underestimated given the reticence of many salespeople to learn something new.

Accessible within almost every business, PowerPoint also typically represents a sunk cost – money already spent and accounted for. And indeed, often bundled with your operating systems or productivity suites rather than made as a standalone purchase, many businesses might even consider the software to have no associated cost at all.

Compare this with other sales enablement tools which can be more complex to use and time-consuming to learn and expensive to buy – and mastering PowerPoint, rather than replacing it, becomes far more appealing.

If everyone has it, why the bad reputation?

‘Dull. ‘Flat’. ‘Uninspiring’. These are the common criticisms of PowerPoint. But when you see a high quality PowerPoint presentation produced by an expert, it simply highlights that such misdirected comments are not about the tool itself, and more its application.

PowerPoint is a blank canvas, offering incredible flexibility. Yet it seems almost every salesperson chooses to create the same linear, text-based slide set. Take a look at our previous blog post, ‘Five reasons why buyers think your presentations are unprofessional’, where we explore this in more detail.

In the digital age, audiences expect more interactivity – the opportunity to engage in a two-way conversation rather than simply being talked at. They want to be wowed, taken on a journey that involves multiple media, fresh ideas – things they haven’t seen countless times before.

Alternative presentation tools therefore seem an immediate and essential solution, but in reality, PowerPoint has all the functionality you need to create the fresh, slick presentations people crave.

If PowerPoint can be criticised, it’s perhaps only for making it too easy to run with a simple standardised template. It arguably encourages an almost lazy approach, and invites users to overlook its advanced functionality. It is used so frequently to support day-to-day meetings, often just for an agenda, that it is seen as a basic template tool.

Templates are often essential for consistent branding and messaging, but so much more can be done with PowerPoint.

Making Powerpoint presentations more engaging

Tucked away in PowerPoint’s menu system are a range of features many salespeople are still to discover. Here are just a few examples of the functionality you can unleash to create more engaging and interactive presentations than ever before:

Change the conversation – For a more responsive, less linear PowerPoint presentation, you can easily create a ‘branching’ menu that allows your client or prospect to choose a variety of different paths through your content.

Together, you can navigate through material, much like you would navigate a website, skipping over slides irrelevant to your conversation and drilling down into the key details straight away.

It’s done simply by adding hyperlink buttons throughout your presentation – linking to ‘a place in this document’ rather than to an online source.

Zoom in on relevant content – New functionality for PowerPoint 2016 goes further to enhance interactivity – the visual ‘jump’ feature that enables you to navigate seamlessly to another slide in your deck with just 2 clicks.

React to the conversation and stay in control by presenting slides on the fly from an overview, rather than scrolling through a linear list.

Illustrate your point – Historically a hotbed for imported ClipArt, PowerPoint has evolved significantly in its graphic capabilities, and now shares a number of features with standalone design programs like Illustrator.

When you can’t find the perfect image for your next presentation, don’t forget you can create and edit your own graphics from scratch, right there in PowerPoint.

You can also use animation and pop ups to liven up text-heavy content, making hotspots pulsate to grab attention, or setting messages to appear a couple of seconds after the slide opens for increased impact.

Your oldest new tool

Rarely, if ever, used to its full potential, PowerPoint is an under-appreciated tool in your sales enablement arsenal.

And while some businesses are spending time, money and resources implementing a new presentation platform from scratch, it could be first worth considering PowerPoint’s accessibility within your organisation and aim to make the most of its full functionality.

It’s important to underline that it is presentation content, not to mention the individual presenter, that are the real deciding factors in a presentation’s success. To reiterate, a dull presentation will, ultimately, be a dull presentation regardless of the technology used.

Dismiss ‘death by Powerpoint’. Look deep enough, and you’ll find the Microsoft program has everything you need to bring your presentations very much to life.

If you’re looking to take PowerPoint to another level, why stop at the suggestions outlined in this post? You might consider utilizing ‘wrap around’ sales enablement tools such as iPSConnect, which allow you to get all the advantages of PowerPoint but with extras including:

• More robust an impactful menu/navigation systems
• Interactive video galleries
• An interactive resources library (integrate customer-facing PDFs, Word, Excel files)
• A tracking system for sales presentations (optimise processes & content relevance)

For more information on iPSConnect visit our Product page.

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