How to Create Visual Stories that Sell

When I look back on the presentations I was proud of making during my college days almost two decades ago, I shutter. Not because they weren’t impressive for my skill level at the time. Simply because they focused too much on showing off my PowerPoint skills that they lacked any true marketing strategy.

Over the past five years, I have dedicated a great deal of my time to studying how to not only create presentations that are visually appealing, but how to also create presentations that enhance what the audience is learning.

So, it’s safe to say that the Visual Stories that Sell with Prezi and Pixar presentation at SaaStr this year was one of my favorites. Below are the tips I took away that can help anyone enhance the presentations they are responsible for creating.

Start with Your Takeaway Message

Your takeaway message is the blueprint for your entire presentation. Every presentation should start with a central or controlling idea. It should start with a question that needs to be answered and build an emotional connection.

For example, in Pixar’s animated film Finding Nemo, the blueprint of the story is centered around the question, “Am I being a good parent?” It focuses on the theme of “Fear vs. Faith”, and it takes the audience down a storyline that answers the question, “Does fear keep one from being a good parent?”

Tip 1: When creating marketing or sales presentations, begin with the end in mind.

Utilize a 3 Point Structure Formula

Your presentation should follow a structure formula that includes an opening, a middle, and an end.

The opening starts with one side winning and establishes empathy for the audience. In Finding Nemo, fear is the emotion that is winning. After Merlin has lost his entire family and finds Nemo’s egg, he tells Nemo, “I’ll never let anything happen to you.”

The middle of your presentation is an argument that forces your audience to make a choice. You provide the unique insight that only you have to offer as to why your audience should make a certain choice.

In Finding Nemo, Merlin battles with the fear vs. faith argument throughout the middle section of the movie, and the audience is forced to decide which choice they hope he will make. Throughout the middle of the movie, Merlin chooses fear.

Finally, you end your presentation with the other side of the argument winning. In Finding Nemo, faith wins at the end when Merlin has to let Nemo go to find Dory and save her.

Tip 2: Take your audience down a path that forces them to choose between your primary question, while educating them on how you provide the tools they need to make the decision easy.

Use Imagery to Keep the Audience on a Journey

Your entire message should be summarized in one picture throughout the presentation. Studies show that messages with pictures and no text are 25% more effective.

When you have bullet points and text on a screen, studies have shown people understand you less than if you had
shown them nothing at all because they have to shift back an forth between your
text and what you’re saying. Text on a screen during a presentation is like forcing you to read a book and listen to the radio at the same time.

Practice Your Delivery

Once you have built your presentation, it is important that you practice it before delivering it to its intended audience. Ask your mock audience questions like:

  • Do you care about the theme?
  • Did I execute in a way that made you feel something?

Remember, you have to be willing to receive criticism if you want to improve your chance of success. Pixar screens a movie concept 8 times internally before the 9th time with a customer group to ensure they have created the best presentation.

Tip #3: Practice makes perfect. Get feedback on how to improve your presentation before you deliver it to your most important audience.

In marketing and sales, it is difficult to book a presentation with a prospect. Honor the meetings you do get with a great story and great deliverability.

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How to Create Visual Stories that Sell with Prezi and Pixar. Ideas for creating sales and marketing presentations.