By Ed Cunningham, Vice President Sales W. A. Wilde
I was flying home from a new business meeting the other night and realized I was in rarefied air…but not in the plane. This air was in New Jersey of all places. It was the fresh air that my team was breathing when we presented to a prospective client without the aid (read: “crutch”) of a PowerPoint presentation. Got the client, by the way…
Oh, we had one in the bag, but thankfully, we never took it out of the bag. We just talked and connected with the people in the room.
I heard a guy that is much smarter than me, Glen Urban of MIT, talk about a new dynamic that we are all playing under called TRUST. People (note: I didn’t say companies) want to partner with people they can trust. In his estimation, everyone wants to trust–they just don’t know who to trust. By connecting with the people in the room without the barriers of the computer, the cords, and the overhead projector, we quickly established ourselves as a group that was not hiding behind anything: we could be trusted. In turn, that helps build customer loyalty.
Why else was not having a PowerPoint so effective? People are tired of them.
This client even jokingly said, “Thank God you’re not going to do a PowerPoint. We’d just rather talk.” Enough said. They want to talk so they can gauge what kind of person you are and if they can trust you. Only then will they open their kimono and tell you what their real problems are and specifically what you can really do for them. Once you understand their pain, you can give them an honest assessment of your solution against your competitor’s.
Need more reason to ditch the Powerpoint? I’ve got 250 million more.
According to Microsoft’s own estimates, there are 30 million PowerPoint presentations made every day. EVERY DAY! I couldn’t believe it either. Imagine the dollars wasted on making so many people sit through so many poorly constructed and prepared presentations. I saw some astounding guestimates on the total dollars wasted, and it looks something like this:
- 4 people per presentation
- 1 half hour presentation
- 1 half hour presentation = a quarter of the time wasted
That means that we are wasting 15 million person hours per day. At an average salary of $35,000, the waste per day nears $252 million!
Let’s take a step back, and figure out how we got here and how we get out.
We have 3M to thank for the advent of the slide presentation. With the advent of plastic film, companies were suddenly able to produce computer-generated slides which would be projected onto a wall through an overhead projector. Then came PowerPoint.
PowerPoint was originally built for the Mac. The original name of the program was Presenter; however, due to some trademark issues, it was later renamed and released as a software package in 1987 by Forethought. Microsoft acquired Forethought and quickly added the software to its Office Suite. Seems to me that if smart guys like Bob Gaskins and Dennis Austin named it Presenter, they assumed that we would let the software take over the presentation–and that’s exactly what many of us have done the past few years.
An old article I saw by Edward Tufte reminds us that our misuse of PowerPoint has also allowed the presentation to become a substitute for the presenter rather than a supplement. He contends that the misuse breaks one of the more important rules of speaker which is respect your audience. He also demonstrates where these presentations can be misleading and dangerous.
So how we get out of this rut? I subscribe to the KISS mantra on this one. So I have 3 easy steps for you to follow:
- Stop using PowerPoint tool as a crutch.
- Become the presentation.
- Look them in the eye (without the glare of the projector), connect with your audience, and build their trust in you.
Editor’s Note: Ed also claims that by leaving the projector and the laptop back at the office, his presentations are not only more effective but he is also flying through airport security these days. That would make 250 million and 1 reasons to lose the Powerpoint!