The Art of the Presentation

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I don’t know about you, but I go to an awful lot of vendor presentations (media representatives, research companies, online service providers, application developers). Sitting through as many presentations as I do, I’ve come to see some commonalities among them. Namely:

  • The presenter often knows nothing about our business needs coming in the door.
  • The presenter frequently doesn’t understand that we work under a billable hour structure — and that taking 1.5 hours of 3 people’s time costs us a lot of money.
  • The presenter generally doesn’t leave anything useful behind.
  • The powerpoint/keynote is rarely interesting (mostly, way too many bullet points).

This is not necessarily to fault these vendors (though I am). However going through the exercise of cataloging these failings has made me realize the extent to which most people take presentations for granted. It’s helped me improve my own presentation skills, and has helped underscore for me one of the key truths about the presentation: that it’s a precious opportunity, but one that’s almost always, unfortunately, wasted.

By doing our prospects the courtesy of getting down to business rather than simply taking up their time, we increase our own chances of success while at the same time repaying them for a gift they’ve generously given.

Stay tuned for more on this important subject!


  • February 1, 2010, 10:33 pm  Reply

    I have been present for a few presentations about different subjects. Most were probably during college. I found that the subject has to be an interest for the listener. I have been present for some that grabbed me by the title line. Then the presenter bombarded me with bullets. As you mentioned they can have too many. I like the concept you are suggesting about taking a step outside the generic bubble. I am phasing it my own way of course. Most do not see a presentation as a learning experience other than the material being presented. So much can be gained by thinking in a different perspective.

    I do believe that powerpoints are a great tool, but I also if I may, suggest that the generation that is present in most markets are more geared towards more stimuli in presentation of any kind. Bullet points can only go so far to grasp a reader unless you make that bullet point shoot fire, or the words that follow provide a breath of fresh air.


  • Nick Ising
    February 2, 2010, 10:22 am  Reply

    Thanks for the spot-on blog, Katy. Here’s another commonality: The presenter who takes the time to personalize a presentation — adding a title slide with our company name and the date of your appointment — only to repeatedly tell me, “oh, that statistic is out of date.” It tells me they don’t think my time, or that of any other audience, is important enough to update their presentation.

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