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?
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- Is it because you’re not aligning your products to the specific areas that the audience are interested in?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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