What is the real cost of bad presentations

When I established Qcept over a year ago, one of the most common questions I used to get was, “what exactly do you do?”

“We help people design better presentations and present better,” I would reply.

“Ah, so you are a team of PowerPoint experts!” they would exclaim in clear understanding.

Except, it was not. I would just smile. My 10-year-old son could easily create simple presentations using PowerPoint. There are plenty of tools like the inbuilt feature in Microsoft 365 that one could use to create breathtaking presentations effortlessly.

So, what are we doing differently?

Presentations can easily be made visually stunning, but they are not necessarily successful. That’s because presentations are not a design contest but a communication contest. As a presentation consulting and strategy firm, we have worked with over 50 clients in this short span of time. After putting together numerous market research reports, sales pitches, investor pitches, and RFPs, among other things, I have realized that the real challenge is in conveying the message in a focused manner to the target audience.

The impact of a visually well-designed but unfocused presentation can have far-reaching consequences that go beyond your company’s reputation. Here are four hard-hitting, intangible costs of an unfocused presentation.

“Lack of preparation is the biggest cause of failure across the board.”

Elisabeth Osmeloski


Count money
along with time

Research proves that the average, productive attention span for a presentation for most adults  is just 20 minutes. When a presentation overshoots this chunk of time, your information gets lost. It becomes confusing. This leads to people spending extra time understanding your message, leading to meetings, calls, additional documents, etc. which lengthens the time taken to close the sale. And extra hours mean extra money.


The effect
of negativity bias

The psychological principle named negativity bias displays how a single bad incident can adversely affect many aspects. For example, a single instance of infidelity or a lie is all it takes to ruin a marriage. Similarly, your audience will only remember the one factor that made an otherwise superlative presentation bad. It could be the lack of crisp messaging, information overload with too many slides, or that they were bored without engaging storytelling.

73% of people think poor presentation skills are to blame for unsuccessful business pitches


Your credibility
is at stake

A successful presentation is not only about getting leveled up to the next round or getting funding approval. A bad presentation, more than a good one, can leave a big dent on your credibility and perhaps even turn off potential clients. This, in turn, gives the competition an easy edge. The repercussions of a good or bad pitch deck can impact your authority as a thought leader in the industry, affecting future interactions. This clip from Mark Cuban’s interview with CNBC shows how it could happen.

“I typically don’t like to be mean to entrepreneurs… but these were two doctors who I think thought they could just snow us and mislead us into thinking that because they’re doctors they’re smarter than all of us.”

– Mark Cuban


The value
gets lost

What is the goal of your presentation? To provide a value proposition that the audience cannot resist, and hence will result in conversions. Drilling down and zoning in on the two or three key unique values of your business requires thought, research, and a strategy to present them in the best manner possible. Failing this, your values and messages get lost in the sea of slides.
Presentations are not just about visually stunning PowerPoint decks. They are about conveying your purpose with crystal clear communication. There are tools and plugins to beautify your slides, but only strategic thinking and a deep understanding of your product can show you how best to narrate your story, the key messages to focus on, and, most importantly, how to relate them to the target audience. After all, you will not have a product or a story to tell without them.

Nitin Mahajan is an entrepreneur, strategist, and presentation consultant. He is the voice behind this website and, of course, Qcept. Nitin lives and breathes presentations and his mission is to help businesses grow through quality communication and content.

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