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Robert Gaskins and Dennis Austin at Forethought Inc. developed a “presenter” software that is now one of the most valuable business tools available. The Microsoft Office suite caters to millions of users across the globe, and for proposal professionals, PowerPoint continues to be the perfect solution to express proposals efficiently. In this article, I outline the effective use of PowerPoint and why you need to take advantage of this essential tool.
The 5 Ws and 1 H
Whom (to Target)?
Proposal evaluators are our target audiences; our audiences might include procurement teams as well. But we also have to remember another “whom”—with whom we are competing. PowerPoint gives you the visual power to connect with your targets’ brands and needs, such as adding logos and quick reference points, and to differentiate yourself from the competition.
A PowerPoint presentation is suited for every phase of a proposal life cycle, from creating a proposal to preparing for your client visits or meetings.
What (to Convey)?
Your proposals must be presented with:
- Your company’s corporate profile.
- The client’s business objectives.
- Your current market position, relative to your existing competitors.
- Your problem-solving capabilities to deal with the client’s current needs.
- A distinct brand, showcasing your cutting-edge innovative solutions over your competitors’.
PowerPoint makes this simple, helping to succinctly and clearly outline exactly what you need to convey.
Where (to Portray)?
So where can you present all of the above to get an edge over your competitors? Represent your brand on slides that highlight your solutions. Show that you are in touch with your client’s brand by including its logo on slides related to its background and needs. Consider representing both companies on a few slides to spotlight the collaborative aspect that comes with specifying the right solutions.
When (to Use)?
A PowerPoint presentation is suited for every phase of a proposal life cycle, from creating a proposal to preparing for your client visits or meetings. You can also add it as a supporting file when the required response is text-heavy, cutting the time your targets need to evaluate that full-text document.
For a new service line or a similar situation when you might not have very descriptive answers ready and need to prepare a proposal for the first time, a PowerPoint presentation continues to be effective in helping to build a visually driven proposal.
Why (Is PowerPoint Still the Best)?
- It’s user-friendly.
- It leaves a memorable impact on the person reviewing your proposal.
- It’s less text-heavy and builds space for interaction with the client.
- Information can be presented in a short, crisp way.
- Its visual nature encourages attention, interpretation, and interest of the audience.
- It’s an efficient way of conveying your full message.
How (to Express)?
To express your content correctly, the first thing you need to do is gain clarity around your thoughts; then figure out how to convey those thoughts clearly in your proposals. If you’re not accustomed to PowerPoint, here are a few tips for using its many tools:
- Add animations to your slide to emphasize a point.
- Make it a more personalized, interactive presentation by adding a voice recording to it.
- Standardize templates for your organization by using a Slide Master.
- Add transitions from one slide to another, to show movement in your figures, or to highlight a solution.
- Add bar graphs or pie charts to show quantitative data.
- Embed photography, video, or audio to make a memorable impact on the audience.
- Build lists, hierarchies, and organizational charts using the available SmartArt templates to improve efficiency.
- Call out important information with shapes, icons, and banners to make your presentation feel more interactive.
The future of presentations is not limited to the information given above, as PowerPoint continues to be the best tool in terms of developing and improving with overall business needs. The latest new program that’s challenging PowerPoint is Prezi, which has more design templates and business-focused productivity tools, including real-time data analytics and the Live Prezi feature, which offers virtual meeting rooms to host remote Prezi presentations. Still, it will be tough for Prezi to fully top the presentation software that’s been the true leader for decades.