I hear it all the time. It usually comes from people in the Communications or Marketing department. They’ve been reading this blog — and others — about how to create powerful, persuasive presentations. But executives at their organization are comfortable with the old way of using the slide as a teleprompter, even though the audience hates it!
How do you convince executives that they are hurting themselves when they present? And that their sales reps and internal presenters are also having a damaging effect?
Point to recent failures
Keep an eye out for failures that might be related to poor presentation skills. Examples would be lost sales and potential clients saying, “Don’t bring the deck.” Perhaps there have been internal snafus or wrong decisions made because of poor communication. Remember here that presenting isn’t about PowerPoint — that’s just one aspect of it. Presenters also need to
- Learn how to organize their content clearly
- Focus on what the audience needs and wants
- Speak at a level appropriate for their audience
Explain the research
There is SO much research on what makes an effective presentation. A book that puts most of it together is Speaking PowerPoint, by Bruce Gabrielle. Although I disagree with some of Bruce’s conclusions, I return to his book regularly for the research that he documents.
Show before and after examples
When executives see what’s possible, they may like it! For example, if they see the above alide turned into these slides, they may agree to try the new way of presenting.
Find examples of great presentations
TED talks, recordings from industry conferences, and so on are all ways to show executives what others (and maybe their competitors) are doing. Sometimes, you can find free webinar recordings online. For example, the webinar I did for PresentationXpert is available on YouTube here. This is about 1-1/4 hours of free training.
Don’t give up!
Above all, stick to your principles and continue to make your point. Eventually, they’ll get it.