Avoid Powerpoint. Think outside the slide.

We're not saying that PowerPoint’s at fault here, well maybe we are. How many times have you been in a presentation scenario and felt your eyes glaze over in anticipation of the imminent boredom you’re about to endure? I bet everyone's hand just voluntarily shot up. Then why do agencies insist on using this format in pitches? Let's be honest it's bloody boring.

The first thing we'd like to challenge you on is your thinking about pitches being 'presentations'. Why do we even think of them in that way? Is it simply because everyone does?

Let's stop and think. If you were on a first date would you whip out a 50+ slide PowerPoint presentation to woo them? Hell no! You'd have a conversation and do your best to entertain them with stories, listen to what interests them, find mutual ground and have a laugh. So why do so many agencies insist on ‘death by PowerPoint’? We all hate creating them and clients find them lack-lustre at best.

We’re not saying don’t have a structure for a pitch, that would be madness. We just think the approach should be different:

  1. Give your conversation a theme. One will usually reveal itself by asking them one simple question “Above everything else what will we have to do to win this pitch?” It’s surprising what comes back.
  2. Work backwards. Decide the 3-4 points you want to land before your meeting has concluded?
  3. Have an agenda but make it flexible. One of the most annoying things about PowerPoint for a client is wanting to discuss a certain point and being asked to wait for another 15 slides before they can. Can you imagine your date waiting in the same way? I don’t think so; they’d think that all you care about is you, not them.
  4. Everyone in your team should be well rehearsed and an expert on the area they’ve been asked to speak about. That way the conversation can wander a bit to suit the clients wants and needs and you’ll all be able to get back on track when required. We can’t encourage you enough to rehearse properly, not just on your own, but together.
  5. Try using printed boards for those moments when you want to make a point e.g. to:
    1. Share the work - client’s can hold them and feel an ownership over the solution from the moment they have it in their hands.
    2. Point at diagrams – this allows you to hold the board and highlight your point when it’s required, letting the client stay connected to you rather than having to choose between you and an unemotional screen.
    3. Discuss case studies – this means you can have a number of them to hand (maybe more than you may end up presenting) to be brought out at throughout the discussion.
  6. If you have creatives in the room consider using rolls of paper of some kind so they can draw right in front of the client (but do practise this “rehearsed spontaneity”).
  7. Draw on white-boards i.e. diagrams, create imagery that reflects the client in some way etc.
  8. And if you have to use PowerPoint, use it sparingly to show digital work, images or videos (avoid those hides bullet pointed slides at all costs). Images rule!

There are millions of things you can use to enhance your conversation and allow it to flow rather than tie it in to the linear presentation route most people take. It does take preparation. It does mean the pitch team really need to know their subject matter and rehearsing properly is an absolute must. But, most of all, it takes confidence and bravery to step away from the PowerPoint and think outside the slide.

We’ve encouraged our client’s to think outside the slide and once they’ve let go of the ‘PowerPoint crutch’ and embraced items like boards etc. they’ve been delighted at how client’s have reacted to them as people rather than cold presenters.

So, go on, be brave and try doing your next pitch without PowerPoint. With hundred’s of multimillion pound pitch wins under our belts we know it’s the pitches that allow you to engage with a prospective brand that tend to be the winners.