Many years ago, in a pre-Eyeful life, I was given the fantastic opportunity to head up a cracking team of developers, salespeople and marketeers to launch a ground-breaking product into Europe on behalf of our US parents.
This was huge. The software in question was revolutionary, aimed at a fast-growing sector and commanded a very high ticket price (each contract was a minimum of £1 million). Our team worked hard to realise the potential of the product. Really hard. These were exciting times.
We eventually got the opportunity to present to the board of one of the UK's largest retail banks. Anticipation built as we excitedly considered our first proper prospect.
With two days to go to the meeting, it dawned on us that we didn't actually have a presentation to share. All eyes turned to me as the resident PowerPoint whizz and I got to work. 24 hours later and the panic was starting to kick in. I’d created what became known as the ‘mega deck’ - a repository of every scrap of information I could lay my hands on about the product.
Regulatory proof points…
Training support materials…
…this deck had it all. It was ugly but we reconciled this with the confidence that we’d covered every base. We collapsed in a heap and then waited with anticipation for the Account Director to return from the meeting.
His face said it all – it had been an unmitigated disaster.
Our inability to deliver a concise and focused message to an audience keen to buy had cost us dearly. The presentation was little more than a collection of content slides - there was no structure, story or message. We had managed to leave our audience confused rather than excited.
We never got a second chance with that particular bank. Ultimately, the product never really gained traction in Europe. We quietly closed the project down 6 months later.
The reality is that failed project cost our business hundreds of thousands of pounds. The opportunity of us getting that first engagement wrong and not being able to build momentum probably cost that business tens of millions of pounds.
We had a great product and a talented team, but our inability to present our message properly had a huge impact in the early days and was the beginning of the end.
So, what lessons can you take from this sorry tale?
This is a perfect example of how not having a fully formed presentation strategy in place can hamper the most dedicated and motivated project. The product, people and opportunity were all in our favour…but we lost out because, at the moment of truth, we couldn’t come up with the goods.
The lessons I learned during that period of my career have proven invaluable. Bruised and battered by the experience, I chose to develop my own skills in presentations – not just the fancy PowerPoint stuff, but the core of what actually determines when presentations succeed or fail. I threw myself into learning about story, the importance of refining/testing messaging and the vital part played by audience.
In short, I became obsessed…and founding Eyeful was the natural conclusion of this obsession.
But enough about me…how’s your next important presentation shaping up? If you’re after a second opinion, give one of our team a call. Who knows – it may end up saving you millions.