“Our customers expect it that way”

I have never once in my lifetime seen any audience prefer a boring presentation over a compelling one.

And yet, people keep on defending their bullet-overloaded PowerPoint insisting that “that’s the way our customers expect it.” Almost always that’s an excuse to keep hiding behind boring, self-centered PowerPoints.

What people mean by “our customers expect that” is that they don’t trust in their story still being compelling when stripped of the PowerPoint decoration. When it looks like PowerPoint, it’s at least the way everyone does it. To paraphrase the famous IBM-quote, no one’s ever got fired for using PowerPoint. People are so used to boring PowerPoint presentations that they tolerate it.

Yet, nobody expects it. What audiences expect is that presentations don’t talk bullshit. Or lack substance, consisting of not much more than cute pictures and a few jokes.

Of course, that’s not what we mean when we say “compelling”. Compelling is not in how things look but in what things are. Substance is in the product, not in the slides. Resonance is in the story, not in the medium.

So, let me repeat: I have never once in my lifetime seen any audience prefer a boring presentation over a compelling one.

If in doubt, make it more compelling, not less. Make it stand out more, not less.

Make is less standard rather than more standard.

I guarantee you that people will appreciate you for making great use of their time.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

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