The twenty-first century has seen many developments in the world of business. We now have cloud computing, making creating and sharing files between colleagues and partners easier. We also have the spectacular growth of wireless internet and smartphones, making communication between us and the office instantaneous, and we have had the development of video and images grow to a point where we can view videos of our family thousands of miles away live through the internet.
Sadly, despite all this technological development, many business presentations delivered today are stuck in the 1990s. There are few or no images to help make a point easier to understand, and the use of video in presentations is woefully poor. Either the videos used have no relevant point to the presentation, or there simply are no videos at all.
Many people blame PowerPoint, but that is not true at all. PowerPoint has developed throughout the first ten years of the new century making the use of images and video much easier.
What seems to have happened is that while technology has moved forward, business managers, who trained in the 1990s have not.
I have heard all sorts of excuses for the typical, boring, text dominated presentations. The best one so far is:
“Our customers don’t like modern presentations”
What complete rubbish! Your customers time and time again, when asked, say they hate boring old presentations. So why are you still delivering ‘boring old presentations’?
Part of the problem, I think, is that managers trained in the 1990s have not kept up with modern business thinking. What I mean by that is that managers still believe that facts, figures and details are what sell products.
Yet, in a world of instant messaging, cable and satellite TV, teleconferencing and smartphones your customers’ attention span has dropped dramatically. While in the past it was thought that an average person could focus on one thing for about fifteen minutes, today that figure has dropped to less than five.
What your customers what to know now is “how will your product or service benefit me?” And you have about ten minutes maximum to get that message across to them. If it takes you longer than that, I am sorry, but you will have lost your customer.
What your customer wants in the twenty-first century is a presentation that is informative and gives me the answer to the question “how will it benefit me?”
The details should be supplied to your customer on a fact-sheet. This will contain all the data, and boring technical details for your customer to go through at a later time if that is what they want to do.
So please, wake up and join us in the twenty-first century. Stop creating presentations that are boring and full of text, facts and figures and use a little imagination. Have your design team create your slides and tell them that you want to have a presentation that is visually appealing and containing as few words as possible.
People often ask me “how can I present like Steve Jobs?” the answer to that is simple:
First create visually, but relevant slides with little or no text
Second, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse.
It really is as simple as that.