Lap It Up

By Malcolm Fleschner

With the innovation of laptops, LCD projectors, PowerPoint and other high-tech tools, the sales presentation has unquestionably arrived in the 21st century. But have you? In New Sales Speak: the Nine Biggest Sales Presentation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them (John Wiley & Sons, 2001), author Terri Sjodin suggests 10 tips for delivering a high-impact laptop presentation.

1. Left Is Right
Instead of standing in the center of the screen, move to the audience’s left. Because people tend to read left to right (in English, anyway), by standing at the beginning you draw the eye back naturally to where it should be.

2. Go into the Light
If possible, arrive early and adjust the lighting so that when you speak you are well illuminated. The room may need to be dark for the audience to see the screen, but you’re the star of the show and when you make a point you should be visible.

3. Motion Sensitivity
Use motion to direct the audience’s attention. Point to the screen when you want people to look there. Move around to get their attention back. For times when you need crisp attention, incorporate blank slides into the presentation or close your laptop cover.

4. Stay Juiced
Always make sure you have a backup power source available and, when appropriate, bring along extra batteries.

5. Less Is More
Incorporate as few slides as possible to make your point. With each screen image you consider, ask yourself: Is this necessary to help make my case or am I just unloading information here?

6. Color Coordinate
Colors vary from one presentation platform to another, so be sure to check ahead of time to make sure your media all depict your logo and other important color images to your liking.

7. Hues the Boss
Too fancy can be distracting. Use no more than six different colors in each slide and keep the dazzling transitions and builds to a minimum.

8. Reading Is Fundamental
Another important check is for readability. If the audience can’t discern what your slides say, your impact will suffer (duh). Stand about six feet from the screen and see if it’s all clearly legible.

9. Save Yourself, Not Your Screen
Screen savers and other power-reserving features can kick in unexpectedly, drawing attention away from you. Turn them off ahead of time.

10. Double Your Pleasure
By using a toggle switch, often a function key, you should be able to display images simultaneously on your laptop and projection screen. Use this function.