I help to run a presentation agency. I read a lot of books about presentations. I do a lot of thinking about presentations, and presentation theory. My colleague Richard reads all the academic papers on presentations he can find.  As a company we try and test different approaches to presentations, and test all the latest presentation technology. In short – we really live this stuff.

It’s easy when you are immersed in something to forget how small a part of your customers’ lives that thing is. We work with sales leaders, marketing departments, learning and development teams, to create great slides. Finding an agency to help with creating visual presentations – sales, training, product updates – may be a very small part of what our customers do. Which we forget.

At a recent Better Presentations event in London I asked 60-odd people if they had read Presentation Zen. That book is probably the best known in our field. Nobody had read it. The room was full of our customers and potential customers. Some worked as presentation designers. None had read the most popular book on presentations. It I’m honest, I would have guessed that maybe 50% of our audience would have read it, but nobody had.

Why am I telling you this? Well, if you work in presentation design, it’s worth thinking about where to find new customers. What we do is a tiny part of what our customers do. As interested as we are in presentations, I’m not sure our customers and prospects are reading what we’re writing, or always all that curious about our field apart from when they have a presentation to create or deliver right now.

There’s another point too, and it’s pertinent for those writing presentations. Never make blind assumptions about what your audience will know. They may be on the buying committee for that building you want to build – that doesn’t mean they understand construction phasing diagrams. They might be buying print solutions from you but they may actually be expert in servers, or cleaning and maintenance. That doesn’t make them stupid – you can assume intelligence but not knowledge.

Finally, as a company, we at BrightCarbon often try to convince potential customers not to use the Presentation Zen approach for certain kinds of content-rich presentation. But it turns out that many of our customers don’t know what this approach even is before we introduce them to it. It makes no sense to introduce your prospects to alternatives if they weren’t considering them and weren’t going to before you introduced them.

So, in summary:

  • Don’t forget that often the solutions you offer are only a very small part of what your customers need to think about, so you might not have their attention very often.
  • Don’t assume your customers and prospects know stuff you take for granted.
  • Don’t assume your customers and prospects are aware of competing approaches.
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  1. Image of Chris Slocumb Chris Slocumb says:

    I’m so happy to see you reference Presentation Zen because it’s one of my favorite presentation design books. But you are so correct that most of our agency’s clients have no clue about this book or other thought leadership resources in the area of presentations. They know they want a PPT or Prezi but no much else.

    • Image of Joby Blume Joby Blume says:

      Chris – the crazy thing was that even among a crowd who had come to learn about presentations, nobody had read the best-selling book. I think people tend to think they can learn about presentations by watching others do them (however badly).

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BrightCarbon provided us with a fantastic service ... and left us with a presentation that secured us a £4 million contract. BrightCarbon is our first choice for presentations in the future.

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