Slide decks can be amazing. When used right PowerPoint, Prezi, Keynote, and all the other presentation tools can inspire, persuade, educate, mobilize and motivate. At XPLANE we love creating unique and compelling presentations to reach all kinds of audiences.
But there are times when slide decks aren’t the best way to communicate. Recently, a lot of clients have complained about the 50-slide decks that monopolize business meetings today and consume forests worth of paper printouts. They are asking us for a way to engage their customers, internal teams and industry peers.
What they mean by “engage” often means talking less and listening more and using a slide deck as back-up to answer questions or demonstrate how they can solve challenges their customer brings up. So, these solutions always start with the audience.
It’s been exciting for us to co-create solutions that help our clients engage with people instead of or in addition to their presentations. Here are just a couple examples of those solutions:
- For the logistics division of a consumer products company, caring about customers is a core value. So at a recent industry conference, XPLANE helped them develop a simple paper survey focused on exploring some of the key challenges they face. They told us this was an effective way to connect with customers and build a reputation as a company that listens and cares.
- A large apparel company wanted to convince entrenched and skeptical executives that change was imperative. In lieu of a presentation, the team developed big posters with XPLANE’s help. They gathered the executives around each poster one at a time and encouraged them to make suggestions, ask questions and refine the process. They told us the posters were an excellent way to work through the complex information and help all the executives understand the changes and the benefits.
- A public-private working group on a project for the Department of Homeland Security didn’t want to show just another lengthy slide presentation and hand our a white paper, so they printed a 9-foot visualization of the issues and possible solutions to engage all the participants. The huge map became the focal point of the presentations that year and for the first time, this working group was asked to continue for a second year.
What I like about each of these solutions is that each one started conversations. Each one was different and memorable. Importantly, each one was designed with the specific audience in mind.
When a slide deck isn’t the right tool, start by asking how you can connect with your audience.
Cynthia Owens is a Senior Consultant at XPLANE.