Your Most Important PowerPoint Slide

When creating PowerPoint slides for your next presentation, remember that the most important slide is the second slide. The first slide is usually the title, but the second slide should be the takeaway slide. It is the slide that makes the single point you hope the audience will remember when the presentation is over.

Most people have a creative sensibility that hurts them when making a presentation. They like to lead up to the main point in a dramatic way, carefully laying each brick of the foundation in place and then revealing the big idea to the audience. The problem is that it’s hard to get people in the audience to stay focused for more than a minute or so before their minds start wandering. It’s really important to get to the main idea, the takeaway, within a minute or so.

The main idea is called The Takeaway.  There are a few tests to determine what the real Takeaway of your presentation is.  Here are two ways to test for a Takeaway:

-Ask yourself, if I could have the audience talk about one idea that I presented what would it be?  That’s the takeaway.

-The Takeaway works better when it is packaged as a benefit for the people you are presenting to. What is the benefit to the audience of the one thing you want them to remember?  If you are selling shovels, for example, and you have a new wide mouth shovel with an ergonomic handle, you’ll be tempted to say that the Takeaway is that your company now has a super sized shovel. But, the benefit to the audience might be that their employees can now dig more stuff easier and faster than ever before, making each of their laborers a lot more efficient and effective.  That’s the Takeaway.  The benefit to the audience.

The other value of making the second slide the takeaway slide is that it starts to drive the flow of the presentation in a focused way. Using the shovel example above, if the second slide is the Takeaway as discussed then that sets up the middle of the presentation.  How do we make your employees more efficient and what new tools have we developed? What science do we have behind the new tools that vouch for their efficiency?  What data can we show to demonstrate that an average shovelful of stuff previously held 20 pounds of stuff and the new shovel holds 30 pounds of stuff? What tests do we have that show a typical laborer using the new shovel saves 4.7 minutes for every 100 pounds of stuff he shovels?

Everything follows a straight line from the second slide through the rest of the presentation.

Closing the presentation do a fast summary of all of the data covered and come back to a slide similar to #2.  Remind the client how easily they can change the dynamics of their production by using this new shovel.

You have now started your presentation and ended it with the same theme. You’ve used the middle of the presentation to demonstrate it.  It’s all very focused. When you leave the room the only thing they will talk about is how this new shovel will grow their business.


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