• Ed Halsey

How To Write Better Slide Decks

Those of a certain age will remember The Fast Show and a character called Swiss Tony. You see, writing a slide deck is very much like making love to a beautiful woman. If you're hoping for a replay, its got to be an experience they never forget, make them feel cherished and as though your only consideration is for them - it mustn't be self-serving.

But more accurately, it's also like writing a good action thriller. Consider yourself the new John Grisham, ready to take your customer on a rollercoaster ride.

Too many people have a "standard" slide deck, usually prepared by marketing and full of self-serving statements of grandeur and no second thought for the customer.

"Here's 84 slides about why we're brilliant..."

But slide decks are nearly always written back to front, starting with the slides and then trying to overlay a salesperson's narrative. However, you need to approach it like you would approach writing a book.

  1. Firstly, what is the story you're looking to tell? That narrative should form the shape of your presentation starting with a setup and ending with the fulfilling conclusion for the read.

  2. Now map the key plot points out of that story. Consider each of those plot points is a chapter of your book and each chapter is a slide of your deck.

  3. When mapping those plot points, think of them in terms of scene-setting, introducing characters (the customer is the protagonist, the problems they face the antagonist) and paint a picture of what the happy ending looks like.

  4. Then, and only then, can you begin writing the slides themselves and filling in the gaps in the narrative ensuring that every slide is fulfilling a very specific plot point within your story.

  5. Remember, you as the vendor are nothing more than a plot device - this is the customer's story in which they are the central character, not you. Who wants to read a book about Batman's cape, or James Bond's martini glass? (Both of those would still be better than The Notebook)

  6. Introduce supporting characters in the form of evidence, case studies and testimonials from customers. They are supporting...so pay special focus to how they relate to and are enrich the story of the protagonist.

  7. Always conclude the story and tie all the strands of the story together, without this vital slide (or final chapter) the plot will be incomplete and won't make sense to the customer.

How do you approach slide decks? Do you have another method for making sure your message hits home?

Do you think you're nailing your sales pitches? Tell us in the comments below.

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