Are corporate presentations worthless?


Recently, I ran some training for the UK division of a multi-national company. The participants were all senior business development managers. During the training each of the participants had to gave a presentation to a pre-defined audience, for example one had to give a company overview to the CEO and board members of a prospective customer; another had to present to the CTO and technical team; others gave their presentations to the CFO, or a project team.

While the standard of speaking was very good, as you might expect for such experienced managers, there was one negative aspect across the all the presentations. Everyone was using PowerPoint slides from a corporate set.  While not all presentations were the same, the same company introduction slides kept cropping up in everyone’s presentations.

These slides contained a lot of text and were very information rich. To their credit the presenters were not slavishly going through each slide bit by bit but were highlighting the parts that fitted in with the theme of their presentations.  When I asked why they were using slides with so much redundant information on them, I was told that they were the corporate slides, produced by HQ and that everyone was expected to use these slides. The other excuse was that they didn’t have the time to create their own slides.

In my mind this raises the question “Are corporate presentation worthless?”

The problem with corporate presentation slides stem from the remoteness of the marketing people who create them. They sit in their ivory towers and create presentations about their organisation, their products, services and solutions. They know all about the benefits and the USP’s  (unique selling propositions) of their solutions, but very little about individual prospect’s needs and wants. They try to create a one size fits all presentation which covers everything a prospect may want to know about their company.

In addition, central departments like to spell things out, they feel they have to cater for the lowest common denominator, i.e. the fresh-faced new sales recruit who knows very little about the company and its products. The result is that they tend to use more text, to ensure the correct message is given during the presentation.   In essence, they like to spell everything out, literally.

Inevitably, any such corporate presentation becomes very organisation centric, as the person who created it knows a lot about the organisation but very little about individual customers.

Good presentations are about the audience not about the presenter.  By using the corporate slides, in my example, the audience were suffering from information overload, which detracted from what the speaker was saying. In my view the presenters would have been far better off, radically simplifying each of the slides that they used, to ensure they were only depicting the point being made at that part of the presentation.

Given that corporate slides shows are always likely to be more about the corporation than the customers, and will by definition tend to be very generic, are they still worth creating?

I would value your feed back on this question.

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One Response to Are corporate presentations worthless?

  1. youngmarkets says:

    Following some discussion on linkedin I was pointed at the following article http://www.m62.net/presentation-theory/presentation-best-practice/company-presentation/ which I think answers the question posed. Take a look. Graham

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