Extreme Makeover: PowerPoint Edition

By Heather Baldwin

Company/background: Mike Abbott, vice president of Burlington, Ontario-based ADFLOW Networks (www.adflownetworks.com), knows that to establish credibility with potential customers his PowerPoint presentation needs to include a slide that introduces his company. But Abbott felt his Who We Are slide was dull, unimaginative and unlikely to leave a lasting impression with potential buyers. For a company that provides digital signage solutions to large retailers across North America, Abbott sensed his slide needed to better exemplify the kind of pizzazz ADFLOW creates for its customers. To help create that pizzazz, SellingPower teamed Abbott with Bill Steele, a presentations expert with Brody Communications. Here are Steele’s observations, recommendations and his makeover of Abbott’s slide.

Slide’s objective: Build credibility by showing prospective customers who might not be familiar with ADFLOW Networks that the company is a leader in this young industry.

Audience: Typically VPs of marketing, store development or merchandising or a combination of these people at large retailers in North America.

Challenges: This slide has two basic challenges, says Steele. First, it goes well beyond a simple explanation of who ADFLOW is by trying to tell the whole story of the company and its product. As a result the slide is full of long sentences, is too information-dense and demands elaboration that will preempt later slides. Second, the company’s basic message is that it’s all about dynamic communication, but the slide is far from dynamic. “When ADFLOW presents to potential customers, its own communications should leave prospects thinking: These people really are about dynamic communication,” explains Steele. “If its own product presentation is not dynamic it jeopardizes the credibility of its promise to potential new customers.” In other words, prospects viewing this slide will be left thinking: If ADFLOW doesn’t create great visuals for themselves, how are they doing to do it for me?

Changes: Steele gave the slide a more visually attractive, higher-quality look by using photographic images to show, rather than tell about, three of the primary markets in which ADFLOW operates. He also changed the message. Instead of trying to tell the whole company story, the slide now establishes ADFLOW’s leadership and credibility in the digital signage market. Eventually, Steele says, ADFLOW will need to consider adding embedded video or even doing a Web-based presentation using its own system. Such a commitment might be daunting because of the time and resources required, he acknowledges, but this is the same hurdle ADFLOW is promising to help its customers get over.

Results: By shifting the who-we-are message to emphasize expertise and leadership instead of trying to tell the entire company story, the slide will be more memorable and more likely to engage the audience. Prospects now are more likely to react in the way Abbott wants, namely by saying these are definitely people I should listen to. The bottom line is that ADFLOW’s who-we-are message now sells the company. Finally, the slides’ appearance better reflects the quality look ADFLOW wants its prospective customers to envision for their own advertising.

About the Expert: Bill Steele is a senior facilitator at Brody Communications Ltd. In his role as coach and trainer Bill has been showing clients the way to stronger speech and presentation skills since 1992. He helped develop Brody’s “Speaking to Lead & Inspire” program and other offerings. For more information on Brody Communications’ presentation skills training, visit http://www.brodycommunications.com/training/preso_skills.html
or call 800-726-7936.