Best Practices for Designing Sales Presentations To Be Delivered over the Web

If you haven’t delivered a sales presentation using a web conferencing service like GoToMeeting or WebEx, you will soon.  Travel budgets are being cut and you will be holding more initial meetings virtually instead of in person.  But a presentation you would give in person won’t always work well when delivered over the web.  This article shares best practices for designing sales presentations that will be delivered over the web.

Eliminate movement effects
While web conferencing has come a long way from only a few years ago, one of the functions it doesn’t handle well is movement of objects on the screen.  Those moving arrows or fancy transitions between slides will look jerky and the whole point of the movement will be lost when delivered over a web conferencing service.  The hesitation in the movement is created by the delay in transmitting what is happening on your screen to all the participants.  Cut out the movement and use simple animations such as items simply appearing on the slide or the next slide appearing in place without moving to get there.

Don’t show video clips
One of the hottest trends in presentations is to use videos.  Video testimonials from existing customers can be one of the strongest factors in convincing a prospect to buy your product or service.  But when presenting over the web, video streaming doesn’t work well.  Most videos shown on the Internet are not streamed in real time like a presentation is.  They are downloaded to your computer and played locally.  Instead of having your video show poorly, convert that slide to a picture of the person speaking and the most important quote they make in the video.  If you want the prospect to view the video after the presentation, post it on your web site and direct them to it with an e-mail link after you are done.

Use callouts to direct attention on visuals
More presentations are using visuals instead of paragraphs of text, which is a big step in the right direction.  But if there is nobody in the room with you when you present, how will they see where you are pointing to the screen when showing the key spot in a visual?  Use a callout instead.  A callout consists of two parts.  The first is a graphic highlight, like an arrow, circle or rounded rectangle that directs the prospect’s attention to a certain spot in the visual.  While this is important and necessary, it is not enough.  You must also have the callout text to explain why that spot is so important.  Without the text, the prospect is left wondering what the arrow is pointing to.  Adding callouts is also essential if you send a copy of your presentation to the prospect to share with other decision makers.  The callout highlights the importance of the visual to those who did not hear you present.

Design interactivity to keep their attention
In a live presentation, you can get feedback by looking at the prospect’s face and body language.  They may nod to agree with a point and frown when disagreeing.  You lose that opportunity for feedback and interaction with a web presentation.  So you must design interaction for your web based presentation.  Keep the telephone line open so you can hear them and include open ended questions that probe their thoughts on a topic, their experiences with an issue or how they would answer a particular question.  This interaction keeps them paying attention and not surfing the web or checking e-mails.  To increase the interaction even more, design the presentation as a non-linear presentation.  Give the prospect a menu of topics to choose from and go through them in the order that the prospect wants.  This forces the prospect to choose the next topic once you finish the first topic, a great way to keep them engaged and paying attention.  It also demonstrates that you are fully committed to their needs in this presentation and have given them control of the topics and the sequence.

As you move in to the world of web presentations, keep these best practices in mind to design slides that will look good when transmitted through a web conferencing service.

By Dave Paradi

Dave Paradi has over twenty-two years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written ten books and over 600 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don't overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of fewer than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams communities. His articles and videos on virtual presenting have been viewed over 4.8 million times and liked over 17,000 times on YouTube.