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Lifecycle Approach to Presentations

8 Dec, 2009 By: Charles Dietrich imageSource

Lifecycle Approach to Presentations

Twenty-five years ago, Robert Gaskins, with a little distribution help
from Microsoft, helped free countless business professionals from the need to
carry slide carousels to speaking engagements, use overheads in lectures, or
rely on printed brochures to sell wares. This massive innovation was PowerPoint,
and it was a game changer.  Suddenly, everyone and anyone could make slides and
present them directly from computers.  And, of course, once email hit the scene
the ante was upped, & PowerPoint presentations could easily be sent from person
to person without the need for a sales rep to present the slides.  Colleagues
could collaborate on presentations by emailing, downloading, editing and sending
them back.  It seemed life for presentations could get no better.

Innovative or dated technology?

PowerPoint  technology was such a dramatic improvement over the previous
alternatives, and quickly professionals around the world became hooked on this
new approach. And hooked they stayed – through innovations in personal
computing, Sales and Marketing optimizations that came about with online
marketing, the advent of SaaS, and the dawn of collaborative business software. 
Throughout the last twenty-five years, presentations have climbed the corporate
ladder to become second only to email in their importance to organizations. 
They are used to sell to customers, to present at tradeshows & conferences, to
communicate to staff & Boards of Directors, and to teams trying to optimize
their cycles and products.  In short, they are everywhere – to the tune of about
twenty million presentations being delivered every single day. They are the
conversation opener, and hopefully the deal closer. And yet, this all-important
business tool continues to rely on the use of PowerPoint.

Think about that for a minute. PowerPoint presentations are essentially digital
brochures. Yet you can’t easily collaborate on them – instead you are forced to
email enormous decks back and forth making small edits and clogging your email
servers. You can’t quickly update old data, logos, or other assets – instead you
have to open file after file in search of the one slide you are looking for to
update, and then email that new presentation around to everyone who is using it
and hope they adopt it. You can’t see who has viewed your presentation – in fact
once you send it, it drops into a void where you have no visibility. It could
get sent to your competitors or leaked to the press, not to mention the insights
you could gather about how effective your presentations are if you could see
viewing habits and information.  And perhaps most simply, without your
presentations living in the cloud, you can’t send a prospect a deck without
emailing them a huge attachment, and then hoping it speaks loudly enough to keep
the negotiations open, which would hopefully, lead you to close a deal.

Things are changing

When you think about all the things current presentation technology does not
let you do, and you match this up with all of the enormous innovations that
sales and marketing teams take for granted by conducting so much of their
business online, it is striking how much of a disconnect there is. Somehow,
presentations are the gigantic needle that got lost in the haystack of
innovation, and people have put up with the status quo for so long that they
don’t even realize the needle could be highly effective if it were in an
automatic sewing machine, surpassing previous methods. 

WHY IS THIS? How did presentations – arguably one of the most
important pieces of software a business professional is likely to use in his or
her lifetime – get so far behind?
And why isn’t there more of a groundswell
of anger about this? If you do a Google search for “Death by PowerPoint,” you’ll
find over 60,000 results.  That’s a lot of people who are feeling the pain of
using and being subjected to this software. Entire books have been written on
the subject, and businesses have grown that are dedicated to fixing people’s
poor PowerPoint uses.  And yet, until recently, this problem has not been
addressed in a holistic and effective manner.  The problem essentially is that
PowerPoint was built in a time when cloud-computing wasn’t even a remote
possibility, and it did not grow with the times. Companies like Microsoft grew
so reliant on revenue from client-based software they could not innovate the
technology to take advantage of all our modern computing the world has to offer.

I believe this is all about to change, and that this change couldn’t come too
soon. There is so much more that presentations can do for a company when they
become living, breathing, online documents that transmit information seamlessly
between the presenter and the viewer. Imagine a sales team that can spend the
majority of its time actually selling, as opposed to assembling decks that
likely have outdated information in them.  Or picture a world where a marketing
team can easily lock down users to use only certain fonts, colors, themes, and
slides in their presentations, and can update a logo or a number and have it
automatically updated across the thousands of presentations being used.

We think it is about time for this important technology to catch up to and even
surpass what is currently available. There are now a handful of companies who
are addressing this problem, helping to turn presentations inside-out and
allowing people to interact, engage and collaborate in new ways.  At the company
SlideRocket, they strongly believe that there is a need to address the entire
lifecycle of a presentation, giving professionals the tools they need to
optimize at every point along this circle: creation, management, collaboration,
delivery, and measurement. Until sales and marketing professionals can do all of
this with ease and intelligence, a lot of money is being left on the table, and
valuable time is being wasted in companies across the globe.  The Internet has
made all of this possible, and it is time for presentations to take a giant leap
forward to meet the future head-on.

Charles Dietrich is CEO of SlideRocket, headquartered in San Francisco,
CA. You can reach him at:
or visit
for more information.

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