The customer took my power point away

I was preparing an important presentation. It was an annual review with a key client and there would be a new player involved on the customer side. A high level executive whom I had yet to meet and this would be his first exposure to our team.

Once I had the content settled I went to work on the power point. I put a lot of effort into this deck as these were marketing professionals and I felt they would be more impressed than most customers by a sharply designed deck and more critical than most of a poorly designed one.

In addition, I thought using images of the projects we had completed for them as visual reminders of the successes of the past year would work well. So I collected the right images, worked long and hard on the layout as well as the fonts and color scheme. As a result my slides were image based with almost no text.

Then, of course, I practiced. Then I practiced again. Then I practiced some more. The nature of my slides meant that they would be of little help to me when it came to remembering and delivering my content. I wouldn’t be able to read from these slides even if I wanted to.

As my team and I arrived for the meeting we were informed that the CEO needed the big conference room and we would have to find another space. The customer scrambled but all they could come up with was an executive office that had a large table. This room, as luck would have it, gave me no way to situate the projector towards a suitable wall.

“I hope you can do this without power point” said one of my customer contacts.

Me too, I thought.

I delivered the presentation just as I had practiced it. I simply spoke directly to the customer and it worked out very well.

When I got home I asked my wife “Can I show you my power point from today’s presentation?”

“Well, ok” she said “but why?”

“It would be nice if someone actually saw it” I replied. Then I told her what had happened at the meeting. She thought it was a shame that the customer didn’t even get to see the slides that had taken so long to plan and create. It reminded me of the line from the Robert Burns poem “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”

It’s true that plans often go astray, so practice that presentation and don’t count on being able to read from your slides because one of these days your customer just might take your power point away.

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