Considering how important corporate presentations can be, it’s amazing how badly some companies do them. The wrong messages, presented in the wrong way, at the wrong time, and for the wrong reasons. If you are making any of the 13 mistakes below, your corporate presentation needs help.

It gives the full background to your company

It covers how your company was founded, all the mergers and acquisitions since then, your leadership board, shows your organisational chart and details your divisions, breaks down your sales , shows your share price history, marks your global locations on a map, and even shows photos of your key facilities. Boring.

It can be used at any point in the sales cycle

Sales people need to deliver corporate presentations at various points in the sales cycle – from initial meetings aimed at creating awareness and an acceptance of the need to change, to “bake offs” where prospects are choosing from among competing vendors. If your corporate presentation is flexible enough to be usable without change in any situation, it will be saying the wrong thing at least some of the time. Inappropriate.

It explains exactly how your products work, in excruciating detail

Sales is not just about explaining how your products work and listing all their features so that buyers can make informed decisions about whether you have what they need. The best presentations go well beyond features to focus on benefits. In fact, features should be clustered in a way that supports the benefit statements you want to make – telling the story from the audience (not product) perspective. Tedious.

Presenting it requires zero preparation

There’s nothing that (some) salespeople hate more than having to prepare. If sales people can’t pick up your corporate presentation and use it to tell them what they need to say, things can get messy. But not as messy as salespeople walking in unprepared so that they can read a corporate presentation aloud to an irritated and frustrated audience. Unambitious.

The slides are all self-explanatory

As a presenter, you can never be sure if your audience is paying attention (more on that here). But that doesn’t mean you should use slides that help the audience to read what you are saying, preventing them from focussing on you. Undermining.

You followed the five bullet-points per slide and 6 words per bullet rule

Text on slides is fine – it’s just a question of degree. A few labels and titles are fine. But all these rules about just how much tedious text to put up on a slide? Nobody wants to read an essay while you deliver your corporate presentation. Every time you talk while your audience is reading text from a slide, your audience will stop listening to what you say. Distracting.

It works as a handout and a leave-behind

By providing a print-out of your slides, you ensure that audiences know they will be given a reminder of your key points, and don’t need to listen as carefully. You may hope to increase the reach of your messages because your slides can be provided to others, but you have no idea where they go to, or if your competitors will get a copy. Uncontrolled.

It’s a PDF

You provide your sales people with your corporate presentation as a PDF so that they absolutely positively can’t edit text, hide slides, or adapt the material for each meeting. What you lose in animation to help with storytelling you most likely gain in consistency, but what price compelling slides? Dull.

Everybody important in your company gets their material included

There’s nothing worse than an argument about a corporate presentation, with people complaining that their own area of expertise isn’t included in enough detail. It may be tempting to try and keep your management happy – and ensure buy-in – by including all the material people ask for, but it’s not a true fix. Unfocussed.

Nobody likes using it

If nobody is actually using a corporate presentation, is it still a presentation? Or just some slides that everyone ignores. Most often the result of a marketing team throwing material over the wall to sales and hoping it sticks, if the material isn’t right, people will create their own. Which means you lose any sort of control of your sales messaging or brand. Rejected.

You avoided putting interesting material at the start

It’s claimed by some presentation “gurus” that audiences aren’t always paying maximum attention at the start of your delivery. So you avoid any of your most interesting points being missed by opening your corporate presentation with the typical seven slides of company information that audiences expect. Narcissistic.

It blindly follows industry norms

In most industries corporate presentations are delivered in a certain way. Printed as PDF, read from projected slides, handed out as a hard-copy pitch book… Your corporate presentation follows your industry norm, and doesn’t stand out too much from the crowd. By doing things in the same way as your competitors you avoid the perception of being unique or different, sure. But do you want that? Camouflaged.

It’s written for your founder or VP sales

Your corporate presentation gets great results in the hands of the top people in your company. They use it in conjunction with ‘war stories’, whiteboard sketches, and elaborate off-script insight – to deliver a truly engaging pitch. The problem? Typically, nobody without the same level of experience or personal stories to draw on stands a chance. Corporate presentations need to work for the majority of people who use them, not just those at the top. Undemocratic.

Leave a comment
Written by

Joby Blume


View Joby Blume's profile

Related articles

Jul 2024

Sales presentations are the cornerstone of many companies’ sales efforts, yet so often they aren’t given the time and attention they deserve. Thrown together at the last-minute, often your sales reps stand up in front of a sales presentation that's nothing more than a glorified page of notes. Read this article for everything you need to make the ultimate sales presentation.

Jul 2024

Sales presentations are important, but 1000s of people each day ignore the principles of sales presentation design and sales messaging and deliver material that is tired, ugly, and ineffective. These sales presentation ideas will help you to easily improve your sales presentation; stand out, engage your audience, and sell more.

Jul 2024

We exhibited at a large trade exhibition a couple of weeks ago, and I went along to see what other vendors are up to. A lot of exhibitions are a desolate wasteland for exhibitors with nothing but tumbleweed and other vendors to stop the boredom. This show was actually pretty busy though, and by walking around l think I managed to notice things companies were doing (right and wrong). Some of these observations are surprisingly apt for sales presentations too...

  1. Image of Dennis Dennis says:

    Wow, Joby – you must have sat through the same sales presentations as us! Great list, thank you.

  2. Image of Clemence Lepers Clemence Lepers says:

    Most corporate presentations are just focused on getting people notice unimportant details that won’t fix their problems. It’s often just about the presenters, and never about their audience. Effective presentations are the ones delivering content people are interested in. To do that, it’s all about being laser-focused on knowing the audience, defining their needs & expectations and crafting a compelling message accordingly.


    • Image of Joby Blume Joby Blume says:

      Right, although to an extent the challenge with a corporate ‘credentials’ presentation is that often they are distributed to 100s of sales people and not really adjusted for each audience. So the real challenge is in crafting a compelling message that resonates with target customers – before we really know too much about their own situations/needs/expectations.

Leave a Reply

Join the BrightCarbon mailing list for monthly invites and resources

Tell me more!

No one was looking at their electronics; all eyes were on the podium. We raised the bar on what a great presentation is supposed to look like.

Curtis Waycaster Smith & Nephew