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Presentations Aren’t Documents, They’re Experiences!


Having worked with presentations for over 20 years, I’ve constantly struggled to help people understand the difference between a document which you read and a presentation that you give. We’ve all heard the complaints about PowerPoint killing audiences (which is still true, and happens every day) but the fundamental problem goes beyond just PowerPoint.

Presentations are NOT documents, they are experiences. When you get up in front of an audience or sit down across from a prospect/client to give a presentation, the purpose is to engage, inform and persuade in the moment. That’s the reason companies have sales people (and why those sales people want to meet their prospects or clients in person). The presentation is about connecting with people on multiple levels—visually, emotionally and intellectually—to drive a specific behaviour. When done right, this back-and-forth communication can beyour most powerful channel to reach, engage and persuade the key decision-makers that drive your bottom line.

An effective presentation reflects your brand, engages your audience and empowers your salesperson to deliver your message and close the deal. It also represents your company from a technology, content and quality point of view. If you’re presenting yourself as a forward-thinking, technology-savvy, high-quality company, your presentation needs to embody that on every screen, video and image you show.

When we sit down in front of a computer screen and start typing onto that PowerPoint slide template, it can be hard to keep these things  in mind. Sitting in our quiet office and reading bullets points to ourselves, we forget about the need for engagement and instead treat our presentations as documents, no different from the Word, Excel or PDFs that we’re constantly emailing back and forth.

There have always been marketing teams, presentation designers, TED speakers and Keynote enthusiasts who know to avoid this trap by building dynamic presentations to be experienced and not read. Unfortunately the vast majority of sales teams, training teams and executive presenters miss the boat. They still stand up in front of people and show them documents on a screen instead of presentations. And the problem is actually getting worse instead of better thanks to a whole set of great new Cloud-based tools that were built to solve the document-sharing problem but not the presentation problem.

Tools like ClearSlide, Yesware, DocuSend, Box and Dropbox have made it much easier to send documents of any size but instead of solving the presentation problem, they’ve only made it worse.

Just because you CAN send a PowerPoint file doesn’t mean you SHOULD. It’s still just a document and not a presentation.

No company would consider posting a PDF and calling it their website. No company prints Excel files on billboard-sized paper and calls that outdoor advertising. No company builds their television spots in PowerPoint. So why do companies still send their salespeople out to stand up in front of the actual decision-makers that drive ALL their sales revenue with documents?

We built CustomShow to be a different kind of presentation tool—one that was built to solve this problem of presentation experience, not make it worse. We don’t believe in sending and sharing documents and calling them presentations. We believe in sending, sharing and delivering experiences. By giving companies a platform that lets them show their brand, engage their audience and deliver a clear and consistent message, we’re changing the way companies around the world think about presentations. We recognize presentations as the valuable marketing channel that they are—the ONLY one where you’re actually sitting in front of the decision-maker and seeing their responses and reactions with the ability to respond and engage in real-time.

Help us change the world of presentations. Stop calling PowerPoint files presentations (they’re documents) and start calling presentations what they need to be: shared experiences that change minds and drive business.

Paul Shapiro is the CEO of CustomShow, the leader in real Cloud-based presentations. Paul’s background includes over 20 years of building and giving presentations.

Related posts on CustomShow:
Presentation Tools: The Missing Piece In A Marketer’s Tool Kit

Interactive Presentation Software – 7 Great Ideas for Great Presentations

The Importance of Content and Design for Engagement