Hanley Wood

Business Strategy Blog

Tom Rousseau, Executive VP, strategic marketing services

PowerPointlessness in Today’s Business World

Tom Rousseau Believe Einstein said if you can’t explain it to your grandmother then you don’t really know the subject. He did say that before a lot of grandmas graduated with MBAs and Ph.Ds. in more modern times but the point is when developing a story you need to share with PowerPoint – you have to know your subject.

Why? Because with each and every slide you put together, you should ask yourself what is the “so what?” of that slide to your audience. Last night I was wrapping up a story around what content I was going to present at four different 2013 Hanley Wood Business Media Divisions National Sales meetings: Builder, Concrete Construction, Architect and Remodeling.

Here are some tips, tools and techniques that I applied to the PowerPoint decks for these important meetings and ones you may want to try when you do your next PowerPoint deck:

  1. People sell ideas to people. Always know your audience's first names in advance so when they ask a question in your meeting you always answer by starting with their first name. Get personal, make an emotional connection to warm up your audience.
  2. Don’t just present your research. Tailor your presentation to the audience. If you approach them in a me point of view -- not a you point of view -- the audience has to think through why it is relevant to them.
  3. Highlight in each PP slide the context of what and why this slide is being shown in the first place. What is the “so what?” of the slide to the burning issue or pain point for the audience?
  4. Visualize the “so what?” of the slide with a photo, grid, pie chart. Never have more than five points listed on a slide with more than five to seven words … or a short sound bite describing each point.
  5. Time, practice and strive to have a CONVERSATION with the audience. If you have 15 minutes, practice with a stop watch at least 3x before the meeting. Talk with, not at, the audience in a conversation and do not show them a lot the back of your head looking up at the screen.

So as Hanley Wood is set to launch a newly enhanced Research Company around the thought leadership and pain points facing our industry and customers in the Building Product Manufacturers industry, our goal with using PowerPoint with our customers is simple: Follow the above five points to connect with our customers. At the end of the day, Hanley Wood wants to use our customers’ valuable time more productively and have our customers use research-based evidence as a means to make important business decisions for their companies’ future growth.

Avoid PowerPointlessness. The focus in the meeting should not be the slides, the focus should be on the speaker – you!

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