Framing Your Sales Presentation through Theme

By Julie M. Hansen

You can give your sales presentation an even more polished look by adding a theme. A theme is a unifying idea or motif that embodies your prospect’s objectives, your value proposition, or your competitive advantage. It’s typically very short — one to four words — and lends itself to a clear visual image.

Although used prominently in your opening and closing, a theme runs like a thread throughout the rest of your presentation, even influencing your slide design and messaging.

In order to strike a good balance between no theme and theme park, you need to have a solid understanding of when to use a theme and how to choose one that’s right for your presentation and your audience.

Knowing when to use a theme

Themes aren’t a necessary component of a presentation; however, a theme can be valuable in the following situations to help prospects remember your presentation and your value proposition.

  • Long presentations: If you have a presentation that runs two to three hours or more, you’re starting to cover a lot of ground. A theme is helpful in tying ideas together and making it easier for your prospect to see the relationship between different sections by providing a common thread.

  • Multiple presenters: The differing styles inherent with team presentations can make a message seem less cohesive than if delivered by the same person. Using a theme can give a sense of consistency and uniformity lacking in many team presentations.

Determining theme

When deciding on a theme, you need to consider these three questions:

  • What do you need to accomplish? To inspire your prospects? To excite them? To motivate them? To challenge them? Different themes convey different emotions.

  • What is the tone? Serious? Light-hearted? Humorous? The tone you strike must coincide with your message and will influence your choice of a theme. For example, if your message is about turning a company around from the brink of disaster, a theme about badminton may be a little lightweight to support such a substantial subject.

  • What are the visual possibilities? A good theme lends itself to a clear visual. The more instantly recognizable the better. For example, two clasped hands may easily identify a theme of “togetherness,” while a theme of “maximizing value” may be more difficult to quickly convey.