You would love to have a video of your products or services, but creating a video is very costly and once created, it is hard to customize for each client situation. Is there any way to easily create a video substitute that can be customized for each client, but doesn’t cost a lot to produce and doesn’t require you to learn complicated video software? Yes there is. And you probably have the technology already on your computer to do so.
The PowerPoint presentation software package that comes as part of Microsoft Office has been able to create video-like files for years, but it is rarely used by sales professionals as part of their toolkit. Not only are these files easy to create, but they are easy to e-mail to prospects (and, therefore, easy for prospects to forward to other decision makers). And since all that is required for the recipient to see the file is standard PowerPoint, almost every prospect already has the required software to view them (no downloading of some obscure software that their IT department forbids). Here’s how you can create your own PowerPoint sales movie.
Decide on the structure
Just like a film maker, you should first plan the movie. By this I mean laying out what you want each slide to say and how you will flow between ideas. The biggest difference between a regular presentation and this sales video is that there is no one there to narrate the slides. The slides must deliver the entire message. So greater planning is required to make the message flow smoothly from point to point. Using sticky notes to lay out the slide ideas, move them around and restructure the thoughts is a good way to approach this step.
Develop each slide
Once you have each slide idea captured on a sticky note, now you can go ahead and create the slides. Remember to make it visual. You don’t see movies that are filled with screens full of text, do you? So include pictures, diagrams, quotes, graphs and other visuals on the slides. You will still need explanatory text of course, but break free from the text slide mode for the movie.
Animate each slide
Just moving from slide to slide is too boring. You need to build the idea of each slide by using the animation feature of PowerPoint. If you have three text points, build each one so the viewer can read it, absorb the meaning and reflect for a moment before the next point appears. Use the movement of arrows to direct the attention to a specific spot on the visual, such as a turning point in a graph or a product feature on a photo. Sequence the animation so it builds the ideas logically. Avoid the fancy animation effects, such as spinning and flying effects and use simple, clean effects like film makers use.
Add slide transitions
To move the movie along from slide to slide, you will have to add timed slide transitions so that the movie proceeds from slide to slide. Just like when adding animations, stick to simple, clean transitions like dissolves and fades. Set the timing so that the viewer has time to absorb one slide before the next one appears. If you want to add an element of interactivity, you can add navigation buttons so that the viewer can navigate through the movie in the order they want to.
Compress to reduce file size
If you have added high-resolution photos, you may have your PowerPoint file unnecessarily large. PowerPoint can’t use most of the pixels in a high-res photo, but instead of discarding the ones it can’t use, it stores every pixel in the file. In many cases, adding as few as three high-res photos will cause the PowerPoint file to be too large to send by e-mail. Use the Compress feature in PowerPoint to remove the unused pixels and dramatically reduce the file size.
Save as a show file
The one step that makes this all work is to save the PowerPoint file as a show file. A regular PowerPoint file does not run automatically when it is opened. But a show file is set up so that when the recipient opens it, the file starts up in show mode and your slides start the animation and transitions to build the ideas and move from slide to slide, making it appear just like a movie. The file format is known as the PowerPoint Show format and is found as an option on the Save or Save As dialog boxes in PowerPoint. You will be able to distinguish PowerPoint Show files because they have a .PPS or .PPSX file extension instead of a .PPT or .PPTX extension. While saving the file as a show automatically starts it as a movie would, it does not protect it from editing if the recipient knows how to do so (but few people know this).
Test before sending
Before you send it out, test your show. Most of the time, your recipient won’t watch more than 3 to 5 minutes of video, so check how long it runs. Test that all the build animations and slide transitions work they way you expect them to and the timing is adequate for the viewer to be able to grasp each idea. Test that the file can be sent through e-mail without causing it to be filtered or rejected due to size.
Send with instructions
When you do send the file, make sure that the e-mail has instructions on how the recipient can open and view what you have created. If you send it without instructions, they won’t know what it is and may not figure out how to view the great sales message you have crafted.
The first few times you create one of the PowerPoint sales movies, it may take a little longer to get the hang of it. But as you get more experience, you’ll find that you will create a template for the movie that allows you to quickly modify a standard set of slides with the customer information and specifics for this situation. You will stand out from your competitors and you will quickly gain a reputation as someone who understands a prospect’s situation and creates customized solutions. All of which leads to more sales and a better future for you.
Dave Paradi has over twenty years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written nine books and over 100 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 less than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel and PowerPoint communities. He regularly presents highly rated sessions at national and regional conferences of financial professionals.