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Creating a Killer Presentation: Three Essential Questions for Every Pitch

Creating a Killer Presentation: Three Essential Questions for Every Pitch

Does your business presentation suck? Wait, let me rephrase that:

Your presentation sucks. Are you aware of that fact?

Let’s face it. We’ve all been in a butt-numbing, brain-draining PowerPoint death march at one time or another. Are you leading the troops?

You know what I mean, that droning tour of incredibly dense slides, where someone is reading to you what you’re reading yourself, only the voice inside your head is much more interesting.

You’ve seen a slide presentation where density = quality, right? You know you have.

Super Dense Slides are NEVER the Answer

You’ve probably read all the books, and seen all the videos, and read all the guides and all the online tips on how to achieve simplicity in your business presentation. Isn’t it strange that – in spite of that knowledge – you still won’t do what needs to be done.


Maybe the problem isn’t skills, or knowledge. In fact, it can’t be – because you know what you need to do. But, for some reason, it’s hard to trust the feeling. There’s a concern – some would call it a fear – of some kind. A fear that holds you back from creating a really compelling, simple and engaging presentation.

Maybe it’s the fear that, if you kick ass on this presentation, they will ask you to do another one?

The problem isn’t knowledge. The problem isn't the process. Knowledge is everywhere – google what you need! For starters, you can easily find resources from Seth Godin and others online on how to stop creating lousy slides.

I’d like to share with you three quick questions that can help you to distinguish good slides from bad. These are the questions I use in my coaching conversations, and they are the questions I ask myself before I put something on the screen.

I’m not going to tell you which template to use, or how many words or bullets to use, or even which images are best. You know why? Because no one will know better than you which choices are the right ones.

The question isn’t “Which choice should I make?” it’s “Will you trust your instincts, and make a choice?”

My interest is in providing a tool for evaluation – a yardstick, if you will, so that you can measure what makes your slides powerful, or pitiful.

There are three questions you have to ask yourself, for every slide you create.

They are deceptively simple.

They are easy to implement.

They are designed for you and for your audience.

When someone looks at your presentation, at your PowerPoint slides, what do you want them to:

  • Think?
  • Feel?
  • and Do?

Take a look at each slide in your deck.

There should be one answer for each of the questions, for each of your slides. Some presentations are more thought-provoking than others. Some are more hard-hitting and emotional (if you truly wish to persuade in your presentation). Some presentations provide direction and a call to action. And some presentations contain elements of all three.

But if your answer to question #1 is: “I want them to think of all 47 steps in the integration process, beginning with a brief historical overview of our team's expertise as well as an overview of our procedures that emphasize their input but maximizing our developmental outcomes and synergies as well as impacts to external stakeholders...”

I’m gonna stop you right there, Gunga Din. The wheels are off the wagon.

This kind of density, on one slide, doesn’t serve you. Why are you trying to bombard people with this much information on one slide? Why can’t you take the time to simplify your story? The simplest message is the strongest! And – that doesn’t mean it has to be simplistic!

Are you trying to serve others with your message, or are you trying to convince people how smart you are? What’s the right focus for your message?

Density is deadly.

Density is detrimental.

Density is destroying your effectiveness.

Each slide has a purpose – a single purpose. What do you want people to think, feel and do, on each slide?

In PowerPoint, as in life: where you put your attention is where you will find your results. Have the courage to internalize this idea: the simplest message is the strongest. The shortest distance to the results you need isn’t through a shockingly dense, overwrought example of your intelligence. Shift your focus to your audience: what do you want them to think, feel and do?

And what would happen to your message if they actually enjoyed your presentation? If you want some more ideas on how to do that, here are some resources for you: