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Should I Change the Corporate Presentation?


By Bob Goodyear

Several months ago, I was speaking with a group of technical sales engineers about how to make a great customer presentation. As our time was almost over, I asked if anyone had any questions before we did our final work. One very experienced engineer spoke up.

“Bob, this seminar has been really good. I see where I can change the way I present. My question however, involves using the corporate presentations or templates we are given. They generally don’t follow the format that we have learned today. Should I change the corporate presentation to meet the way I want to present”?

Wow, what a great question! If YOU were asked this, what would you say? Here was my answer and I’ll ask you to share your opinion.

Remembering that this group is involved in sales as I was for many years, I began by acknowledging the quandary of the question. “As technical sales professionals we are given a presentation by a corporate group, such as product management or product marketing, and told that this is the information we should deliver. Depending on our audience, this may or may not address what our customers want. Sometimes these presentations are full of fluff that are meant for a non-technical audience and we are talking to a highly technical group. Other times the reverse is true. I think there are actually two questions we need to answer rather than one.”

I then identified the two questions: “The first question is should I change the corporate presentation? My answer to you is a resounding YES if it makes sense for your audience. What you change however must meet the needs of your audience. I know of one excellent sales engineer who changes every corporate presentation he uses. He removes slides from the PowerPoint deck he receives that he feels are full of too much text. He adds slides that contain more pictures instead, or he breaks up one slide into multiple ones in order to make the information more easily consumed. He also adds slides that allow him to compare a technical process to something most everyone is familiar with. He makes analogies to an everyday event or item to explain a topic that might be complex. He still explains the information in the presentation but he does it in a more entertaining and understandable way.”

I continued. “The second question to answer however is can I change the corporate presentation? This perhaps is a thornier issue. I don’t know what the attitude is within your company about that. Do you have permission to change it? In most companies with whom I’ve worked, with very few exceptions I have been able to change the presentations with no problem. Of course, your company may be different.”

This sparked a lively discussion in the group that went on for a while. The answer they reached was that they should change the presentations when they felt it was appropriate but they better make sure that had permission.

Think about this the next time you are asked to give a presentation that comes from your corporate management. First find out if you can make changes. Once you know that, my recommendation is you should indeed make changes based on your audience. You might find yourself making your presentations more easily understood!

Bob Goodyear is a veteran speaker on technology who understands the communications challenges that technical professionals face. Find out how Bob can help your organization with its presentation. Reach Bob by email or by phone at 404.790.5855.