How much potential business will you lose if you blow your next sales pitch? How long will your venture survive if you miss the mark in your investor presentation? What will it cost if your employees don't understand an important new policy?

Take a second to write down an answer to one of these questions. If the number you just wrote is meaningful to you, then so is the question of the quality of your presentations. This number quantifies for you what you have at stake as you figure out for yourself whether PowerPoint quality is meaningless.

As with any other important question of business strategy, I recommend getting a full spectrum of opinions and advice on the matter at hand--rather than relying on any single book, writer, research report or even a MarketingProfs writer, including me.

I know I'm especially interested in the question of PowerPoint quality myself, so I set out to do a little searching around to find out what other people had say about the topic:

What the Research Says

A study conducted by Lee and Bowers (1997) reported that hearing spoken text plus reading printed text resulted in 32% better learning over a control group of university students. Listening to spoken text, reading text, and looking at graphics resulted in 46% better learning. And hearing spoken text and looking at graphics resulted in 91% better learning.

How do these results compare with the current research you're using to build your presentation strategy?

As with any research, it's up to you to directly examine a study's hypothesis, methodology, statistical analysis, and conclusions to confirm their validity and figure out whether or not the findings apply to your situation. But the way I read it, if you're looking for ways to reduce the risk that you'll lose business because of a presentation, the safest thing to do is to speak using the highest possible quality PowerPoint, which would have only images.

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Cliff Atkinson is an author, speaker, and consultant who translates complex ideas into communications that get results at He is the author of the bestselling Beyond Bullet Points, published in four editions by Microsoft Press.

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