They don’t want to see the marketing slides

How many times have you been asked to prepare for a meeting and been told this? I always find this an interesting comment, and I’ll be frank with you that I do get this during meetings or presentations that I deliver so I think it’s something worth exploring in a little more detail.

What are some of the reasons as to why this comment comes about?

  1. Is it because the meeting isn’t well qualified and therefore you’re left trying to go through things at a high level to actually find the areas of interest
  2. Is it because people don’t engage? it’s always difficult to know how much detail you should go into, finding the right balance between breadth and depth for a talk
  3. Is it because the audience is too broad? If you have a mix of technical and business people in a room how do you find the balance between strategy and vision and technical details
  4. Is it because the audience are too focused on specific speeds and features of a specific product? this goes back to qualifying exactly who is going to be in the room and what they care about.
  5. Is it because you’re not aligning your products to the specific areas that the audience are interested in?
  6. Is it because you haven’t been given enough context for the meeting? maybe you’ve been told to focus on a very specific set of details but you actually want to better understand why the audience wants to know something so that you can ensure they are aware there may be other possibilities they hadn’t considered?
  7. Is it laziness, you didn’t bother to create something that you knew would address the details that the audience wanted and just grabbed some corporate slide deck? I’ve seen people falter during a presentation and then say “Sorry these aren’t my slides”, which always makes me cringe.
  8. Is it because you don’t know your topic well enough and hoped that by keeping it high level you wouldn’t get caught out?
  9. Is it because your marketing teams aren’t connected well enough to your field teams? they’re probably creating what they think you need, have you told them you actually need something else?
  10. Is it because you should never have used slides in the first place, should you have shown people the technology rather than use slides to try and explain it?

All of the above points are just things for you to consider when you’re preparing, or not preparing, for that next session. The slides are actually very rarely the problem, it’s often lack of preperation or qualification that are.

Slides are simply a tool to help you to tell your story, some of the best presentations I’ve seen were nothing to do with what was on the slides, it was down to the knowledge of the presenter. The slides created the flow, they were the reminder of the story and the detail all came from the presenter and not lots of bullet points and details in powerpoint.

In fact many of the best sessions I’ve sat through were where the person brought technology to life for the audience. I’ll never forget the time I saw a presenter walk to the front of the stage, place an Amazon Echo on the ground and then proceed to show the audience how they could use Alexa to improve customer engagement. I spoke to the presenter afterwards and he told me it took a similar amount of time for him to program Alexa than it would have done for him to create slides, but the reaction in the room was impressive, a lot of jaws dropped I can tell you.

I’m sure many of you have been in this situation, either as the presenter or part of the audience so I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this


  1. Really good points here Matt – the only addition I’d have is often when someone comes in and does the logo slides telling you how big company x is – if you’re there to talk solutions I guess they are accepting you are a company with an appropriate background to deliver.

    Then lots of slides about market segments can be a turn-off – but depends a little on context – which goes to the main point perhaps it’s about preparation – the person saying “no marketing slides” perhaps is just assuming it and that’s what people say…

    lot’s of great points to consider.

    1. There’s been some really good comments on my linkedIn version of this post

      I think there’s actually a follow on post here about, what content to use and when.

      I’ve seen so many people spend time talking about their company, their culture, their analyst opinions, their growth before ever getting into any actual solution, so when is this appropriate and when isn’t it? especially today when so many people have reseacrhed you and only invited you in to present based off the back of this research.

      Thanks Paul, that’s one of my next posts in the works!

  2. Presentation is an art! We’ve all seen them, many has done them, the presentation where the presenter is just reading the slides. Why not just send the slides to the audience and not show up yourself. When presenting, you are telling a story. Some way or another. Your slides, should emphasise what you’ve just said. Not what you are going to say. So many of us, myself included, does it the wrong way. Put up the slide, then talk. I think this comes when you’re not prepared, and you do not have your story correct. I guess practice makes perfect here as well, but having a good story helps a lot. The slides, they just there to help you, not to do the story.
    Glad you point this out Matt, so many have areas to improve on presentation skills.

  3. Good article Matt, as always.

    What I noticed over the years is – Presentation vs. Representation. If I really would like to represent my product and company – I need to know my product/topic inside-out so that I can talk from my heart.

    I am still learning!

    1. I know this is maybe a little tangential, but when I was learning to fly helicopters my instructor always said to me “You should never be thinking about flying the helicopter, that should be second nature, you should always be thinking about anything else that could happen and be prepared to adapt”, I think of presentations in a similar way. I should know my content so well that I can talk about it without thinking about it, that way I can focus on my audience and know what’s happening with them and adapt.

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