PowerPoint design services are everywhere today. Some offer 24-hour turnaround and 7-day-a-week service. (Much like a dry cleaner.) Others sell “customizable” templates and vaguely profess a “better presentation experience.” Whether you want to polish your presentation’s look, or need expertise in message copywriting, follow these four tips to get the most from your investment.

1. Be ready to “other-focus.”

Winning presentations engage their audiences. If your presentation sends your potential investors and customers Internet surfing to stay awake, your message is lost and your pitch is passed by. Your presentation expert should help you focus on, and thus engage, your audience. No matter how successful or intelligent, your audience is composed of humans, not “decision robots.” They have hopes, expectations and fears regarding your sales or investment pitch. Before you decide on a presentation company, make sure they focus on more than facts. Be prepared to emotionally engage the humans in your audience. Your message will come alive and your conversion rates will skyrocket. If your presentation vendor dives right into sales pitches and pretty pictures, you might want to move on.

2. Demand more from your visuals.

Those pretty pictures are invaluable for engaging your audience. However, don’t let those dazzling images blind you to the fact that your “designer” might be simply inserting your logo over an image from a vast database. Make sure you’re dealing with a professional graphics designer who understands the power of location, font feel, color palate and internal slide design. An expert will research your brand and develop complementary visuals. Your presentation deserves more than a copy-and-paste job.

3. Don’t check out of the process.

You’re so busy you can’t take on another project, so it makes sense to outsource your presentation design. It’s a smart way to lighten your load, but, if not managed correctly, your presentation design project can easily derail. Instead, bring in all interested parties from the beginning for their input. Take the time to thoughtfully review drafts and try to limit major U-turns near the end. With your input upfront, and thoughtful feedback on drafts, you can ensure your presentation stays on track to meet your goals – and you won’t blow your budget paying for endless revisions and overtime.

4. Think visually.

PowerPoints consists of two basic elements: words and pictures. Many presentation “experts” take your words and randomly add pleasant images. However, for maximum impact, messages and images should be created to complement. If your title statement conveys a mental picture, the slide image can more effectively support the message. The lead-in statement, “Basketball’s Underdogs are Hungry” conveys a much more powerful mental image than, “The Basketball Industry is Facing Competition.” Provide your designer with a hook, and your images will have maximum emotional impact. Think visually – or hire a writer who does – and your presentation’s engagement factor will increase explode!

Kathryn Westberg Ph.D.