Businesses take a methodical, disciplined approach, pouring resources into advertising, public relations, social media and other forms of corporate communications, but ironically, when it comes to presentations, they just wing it. Businesses create and disperse presentations at the last minute without a strategy – even though it’s a form of communications that they rely on every day to trigger sales, introduce new products, deliver business results, and more. That is why more organizations are committing to a presentation management strategy that treats these vital pieces of corporate communication as crucial business assets that drive business.
The very best presentations are stories, and we all know the very best stories are made up of visual scenes that evoke strong emotions. Unfortunately, the proliferation of PowerPoint has caused storytelling to fall by the wayside. Charts, graphs and other images overshadow the story while an endless amount of text confuses the audience. Charts don’t motivate people, feelings do! So, let’s get the story back in our presentations. Think of every presentation as a story where every slide is a scene. To tell better stories, and ultimately give better presentations, consider the following steps:
- Close PowerPoint – Start by figuring out your story – as if you’re talking to someone over coffee. Then, tell it to a colleague, spouse or friend, without writing it down. This will force you out of “outline” mode and into “storytelling” mode where you can whittle your story down to the essentials.
- Imagine a three-play act – Like a Broadway play, a presentation should have a beginning, middle and end – or a setup, climax and resolution. Instead of introducing characters during the setup, introduce the business problem or situation analysis. The middle or climax is the problems that need to be fixed, and how you fix it -usually your company’s product or service. Finally, the climax is the solution, the happy ending, and the positive results of your solution.
- Ask yourself how your story feels – Now that you have a storyline (i.e. your three acts) tie emotions to each act and then to each scene. Every slide is a scene so associate emotions for each slide. By tapping into your audience’s emotions you’ll get them to act the way you want – buy your product, invest in your business, etc.
- Visualize the emotions – Match images to the emotions so that you can trigger your audience's senses and activate their brains. Visualize the emotions, visualize the story and then the actual visuals for the slides will follow.
- Now open PowerPoint and fill in the slides – Now that you’ve nailed down your story, motivating emotions and visual triggers, start filling in your slides. Remember, PowerPoint is simply a conduit to communicate the story – it does not drive the story!
So you’ve created the perfect PowerPoint, presented it and amazingly, it worked! You convinced your audience to take action! Now what? Businesses with no presentations management strategy may save it to a network folder or even email it to interested audience members, but most likely, it will be left at the podium – one-and-done.
But too much time, effort and resources went into creating a presentation that actually worked! So don’t lose that presentation on your network, unleash it across your organization with presentation management. A presentation management strategy provides organizations with a disciplined approach to ensuring that your corporate story gets told, and re-told consistently across all facets of the business. It ensures employees are only using the most up-to-date, compliance approved, branded content that is proven to drive business. Essentially, it makes presentations, and your business, better.
Here are a few steps to executing presentation management.
- Name a Director of Presentation Management: This person will spearhead the company’s presentation management effort and curate all corporate communications and high-level content that may be useful when presenting. He or she will put the story together, and the library of slides, so everyone can access and re-use them.
- Collect the content – When it comes to presentation management, content is king! Most of the content already exists – in your company network, on desktops or lost in emails. Collect all those old PowerPoint decks, sales brochures, product one-pagers and other marketing assets, turn them into a story, and then house them all in one place so that everyone in your organization can access the most-up-to-date, brand-compliant content that is proven to convert.
- Explain why – A presentation management strategy is meant to make presentations better across the entire company. It will make it faster and easier to create a great presentation, i.e. a story, as well as give you confidence when sharing it in front of an audience. So be sure to appeal to your employees’ self-interest and explain why the strategy will help them do their job faster and better.
- Launch in phases: Change is hard, especially at larger organizations, so initially, don’t try and force a company-wide overhaul. Pick a department to roll it out and learn from that experience before applying to the entire organization.
Businesses rely on presentations every day to tell their story and get people to act. A good presentation can have a direct, positive effect on the bottom line while a bad presentation can do just the opposite. Beyond the bottom line, presentation management will better prepare your employees and establish a more productive, insightful work environment. Presentations are critical communications assets that demand resources. By applying better storytelling techniques, and instilling a presentation management strategy, organizations will get infinitely more ROI from these vital business assets and make presentations better for everyone in your organization.
More about the author:
AlexAnndra Ontra is the Co-Founder and President of Shufflrr, where she collaborates with clients to help establish an efficient presentation management strategy within their organization. She is the Author of Presentation Management: The New Strategy for Enterprise Content. AlexAnndra has empowered hundreds of Fortune-level companies, to transform basic PowerPoint slides into vital business assets. Before founding Shufflrr, AlexAnndra developed high profile presentations for clients such as Epcot Center, The NBA, and Mercedes-Benz where she developed her creative, hands-on approach to helping clients drive their business.