It all started with the invention of Microsoft PowerPoint. This software was developed in 1987 by Robert Gaskins & Dennis Austin. In July 1987, Microsoft Corporation purchased the rights for PowerPoint for $14 Million.
Initially called “Presenter”, PowerPoint was designed to facilitate visual demonstrations for group presentations in the business environment.
So, if you ask “Why presentation is important in business”, you have to look into its history & purpose. You have to ask why did they develop this software in the first place. The answer is business purposes! It was essentially developed keeping corporate usage in mind. Today, we use presentations for high-stake storytelling like pitch decks & sales decks.
I personally think that it was a brilliant idea. If you can add visuals to your speech, why not?
But that was in 1987, how about today? Are presentations still relevant in the business world? Everybody is talking about “death by PowerPoint” & how regular speeches are back. So how do you navigate the business context of presentations today?
If you’re reading this, one of the three things is true,
You have a presentation opportunity & you’ve started to research from the very basics.
You loathe the idea of presentations and you’re looking for a meaning to this ordeal.
You’re generally curious about this subject matter.
No matter your reading objective, I’ll try to address your interest.
In this article, we’ll talk about the practical & strategic usage of PowerPoint presentations. Let’s look at them point-by-point.
1. Visual Aid
I’m well aware of the myths & discussions around presentations. One such slang is “Death by PowerPoint”. Even though it’s a famous one, those who coined it came across some pretty lame presentations.
On the contrary, presentations are great visual aids when wisely used. Not everybody can hold an audience with just the tone of their voice. Hence, presentations are life savers for professionals who need something for reference.
For example, have you heard of startup founders who have great connections? They know investors, venture capitalists & everybody needed to run their company. If interpersonal relationships were so important, why do they still build investor pitch decks? Because no matter how great your relationships are, some things can’t be done without presentations. You can’t talk about traction & financials without slides.
Presentations help the audience to grasp your complex concepts. Also, if you do the storytelling right, it brings the audience in your favor.
Strategic meetings often mean presenting complex charts & graphs. The concept of data visualization exists because numbers in themselves are dreadful. Nobody wants to sit through 20 slides looking at ugly-looking charts. Or ugly-looking slides.
Most presentation software now allows you to beautify those charts & present your data visually. You can’t do that verbally now, can you?
PowerPoint presentations are effective tools for data visualization.
For example, if you want to share live reports from Power BI, you can connect them to PowerPoint & share them with a few clicks. Everything is that easy with PowerPoint. I bet you didn’t know this!
3. Narrative control
If the idea is to entertain the audience, there are other ways to do so. Say videos.
But why are presentations still preferred? Because stopping & running the video is a nightmare. Not to mention the accuracy of timing in video editing. You’ll be spending at least 30 hours preparing the visuals & then editing that video.
For example, if you’re to present at an event, you’d like to have pace control that’s easy to manage. Would you like to keep one eye on the big screen to check if it’s running properly? I’m guessing the answer is no. Slides have a manual as well as timed animations & transitions which you can customize. To avoid any public embarrassment, you should pre-set them as per convenience.
PowerPoint gives you a manual as well as a timed option for your visuals. With better control of the pace, you have control over how your narrative plays.
4. Widely accepted usage
A study showed that on average, professionals spend 20 hours a week designing PowerPoint presentations. The question is, “If presentations aren’t relevant today, are these people crazy?”.
The fact is they’re not crazy. Most executives, prospects & partners demand presentations for overview & submissions. All venture capital firms ask for pitch deck submissions. A considerable number of prospects ask for a sales deck before taking a meeting with you.
For example, we have a client who’s a brand manager. Every week, his bosses ask him to submit presentations to gauge his strategic direction. Why do they do it? Because executives don’t have time, they demand visual information that’s easy to digest.
So as a solution, he outsourced the design part to us. If he didn’t, he’d be designing PowerPoint slides for at least 10 hours a week.
The point is, presentations are the most widely accepted submission formats today. What will you do if you come across such situations? Tell them that you think “presentations are irrelevant”. Hence, we have reasons to believe that presentations are relevant even today.
5. Demos & showcases
There are some business scenarios where you just can’t use words. This is true for most tech companies.
Imagine describing this in your speech,
“The QIN uses private LTE/5G networks and Edge Devices (QED) to meet the connectivity and data needs of companies involved in the movement of goods and/or those that serve and support them”.
What do you think will happen? People will doze off & forget everything about you. They’ll pray to the almighty to never have to sit through your speech again. Today nobody likes complexity. Complexity kills everything — attention, deals, sales, you name it.
However, if you use PowerPoint animations to show this, it puts you way ahead of the game. Presentations make demos & showcase digestible for the audience.
All in all!
PowerPoint is too powerful to ignore. Presentations win hearts not because of visuals, but because they’re a great tool for business storytelling.
The audience will engage & love watching you present. What more does a professional want? If there’s anything professionals care more about than growth, it’s influence. High-stake presentations with well-crafted stories win hearts & give you influence. If you think of more business benefits of presentations, feel free to comment.
Are you looking to get your presentations designed by professionals?