A senior sales executive is in the midst of closing the biggest deal in your company’s history, and this is the last meeting. The CEO of your company is there, and several senior stakeholders from both businesses fill the other seats. And then it happens. Your sales person pulls up a slide showing your distribution capabilities in Asia. Or maybe it’s the “newest” specs on your latest products. Either way, the information is old and no longer accurate. Your company consolidated operations to a single facility in India. Or maybe you’re a full version ahead of that “new” product. Either way, your presentation management strategy has broken down.
Image: USAID Afghanistan on Flickr
Now let’s look at a very different universe. Your presentation is sharp, clean, accurate and was just updated by the marketing team 3 days ago. Because your presentation management strategy is sound, the materials were instantly updated all around the globe instantaneously. Now in the meeting, all of your information is relevant (nearly in real time) and your overview shows just how leading edge your company is. Your consolidation shows you’re on trend in global supply chain best practices. Your product has incorporated the latest hardware and taken advantage of open source application that people in the room are just hearing about for the first time. You win. Because your pitch is powerful. Because your company implements a strong Presentation Management strategy.
These examples are composites of real customer stories we’ve heard over just the last few months. And it happens every day. Someone uses stale material because they don’t know better or finding and updating their collateral is difficult and time-consuming. At the same time organizations are becoming more complex, geographically disbursed, and the pace of change is quickening. As a result, it is becoming ever more important to proactively address any potential gap or conflict in how your brand, value or products are represented. It’s for these reasons that Presentation Management strategy has been elevated to an executive level conversation. But before we go any further, let’s start by defining what it is and how it’s used.
Presentation Management Defined
Presentation management is a practice whereby organizations treat presentations as an enterprise communication assets. Presentation management optimizes the creation, distribution, sharing, updating, presenting and tracking of all presentation content. Obviously, this includes PowerPoint presentations but it also includes other file formats as well, like brochures, videos, images, proposal, spreadsheets, PDF, Word, Excel, etc. These are the files that you need every day to conduct business and presentation management ensures that they are accessible, on demand. Our favorite quote that illustrates the importance of presentation management and its broad organizational impact comes from Jennifer Bullock.
They used to spend four hours downloading decks and trying to reconfigure them… now they spend about 10 minutes. This allows the sales team to eliminate administrative burdens of their jobs, and get in front of the customer for longer periods of time.
Presentations are important. 30 million presentations are given each day according to Microsoft estimates. And companies spend $3,375,000,000 creating presentations. They are used in every business case: sales, training, research, marketing, product designs, proposals, financial reports, etc. If the message is important, it will make its way into a presentation at some point. Yet, presentations are often an afterthought that only get attention when it’s time to prep for a meeting. And when that meeting is over, they get lost on the network somewhere – valuable knowledge lost. So, when it’s time for the next meeting, presenters either spend frustrating hours searching through old decks or just start from scratch. It’s a waste of brand, waste of resources and a waste of time. When it comes to resource allocation related to content time and production challenges take 2 of the top 3 spots in a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute (see chart below). We can easily see that recycling and reusing content remain top organization performance issues. Especially as it relates to sales and marketing.
Fortune 500 companies spend millions of dollars creating the right brand message¹. BP famously spent nearly 200 million dollars for their rebranding earlier this decade². They take painstaking efforts to ensure that that message is properly integrated into their website, on TV ads, on Social media, in print, at trade shows, etc. But when it comes to presentations, they slap a logo and color scheme on a PowerPoint master and leave everyone to fend for themselves. Presentation management changes that. It increases efficiencies in the management of content so that all files are visualized, easy to review, accessible and ready to present in all formats. Now, imagine a world where all your most relevant content was available in just a couple clicks. Your room is ready.
Elements of Presentation Management:
The core elements of a strong presentation management practice include Compliance, Visualization of Content, Seamless Distribution, Re-use of content, Feedback and reporting.
Given your company’s investment in branding and message, presentation management requires that the right brand message is integrated/used in everyone’s presentation. Not just the CEO who knows it by heart, but everyone at all levels in your organization.
Visualization of Content
If you can’t see the file or slide, then you can’t determine whether it’s right or wrong for your particular presentation. The ability to review the file with minimal effort and to search within the content of a file, i.e. zoom into slide 37 of an 80 slide deck, or page 34 of a PDF. The way your system visualizes the content will directly affect how productive your team will be.
Creation & Distribution of Content
Before presentation management, you’d create a deck for a meeting and then leave it on the network somewhere, where your colleagues may or may not find it. By default, when implementing a presentation management solution, you will delegate who is responsible for creating and distributing content. It may be one person in marketing, it may be each brand expert or it may be each salesperson now responsible for sharing his awesome presentations with the rest of the team. Just by considering this, you’ve already evolved from a spray-and-pray strategy (i.e. put the deck somewhere and pray whoever needs it can find it in a pinch) to ensuring that everyone in your organization knows who is responsible for the content and where to find it. That alone will save everyone a good two hours preparing a deck.
Re-use of Content
This is one of the biggest pain points for enterprises today. They have all of this great content but no one uses it. Why? Because they don’t know it exists or they can’t find it or both. Presentation management makes it easy for your team to find and repurpose content.
Presenting is a major part of your presentation management strategy. I know that sounds redundant but we have a lot more options today. From laptop and projector to an iPad, to a remote webinar or on-demand link, implementing protocols, the right technology and ensuring your team knows how to use them, will ultimately streamline the process and make everyone more productive. Now they can focus on their message instead of worrying whether or not the video will play when it’s supposed to.
Reporting & Feedback
This is the age of analytics, and that applies to presentations as well. Knowing who presents what to whom, when and where gives the corporate office real-time, quantitative analysis of what’s resonating with their customers in the field. In addition, enabling tools for direct feedback such as social threads, and IM feeds will serve to improve messaging going forward. With reporting and feedback, you are closing the gap between the brand strategists in the home office and the soldiers on the front line.
You may have noticed and overlap between content and presentation management – because there is. Presentation management is content management for presentation. It takes dormant files and turns them into active sales materials, where they are used to convince a colleague, a client or an investor to act favorably toward your business mission. In the world of presentation management, our sales executive is always on brand and on message.
AlexAnndra Ontra, co-founder of Shufflrr, is a leading advocate for presentation management. She has been providing presentation technology and consulting services to F-level enterprises for over 15 years.
At Shufflrr, she oversees operations, including client services, sales and marketing; and still consults with clients, advising them on their presentation management strategy, implementation, and adaptation.
This article originally appeared on the Shufflrr site.