Introducing: The Discipline of Presentation Management

The new discipline of presentation management can have an enormous impact on a company.

Presentation management takes presentations from one-and-done, single files and turns them into enterprise assets deployed intelligently throughout your organization.

Presentation management is a combination of technology and strategic thinking about presentations. We’re writing this book because we have been building and rebuilding presentation technologies since the mid-1990s, and we’ve helped companies understand how to use it to change their thinking about presentations and manage that content as they would any valuable asset. We’ll dive deeper into these topics in the following chapters, but briefly, presentation management works like this: A company decides that it wants to use its presentation content over and over again, rather than waste time and money re-creating slides that already exist but no one can seem to find. So the company engages a presentation management service to store and track these files and slides.

When employees need to create a new presentation, they log into the service, do a quick search for the specific content they need, and preview their options from a variety of formats, including PowerPoint, video, images and PDFs. Then they just select the slides needed for the new deck. It’s like shopping online: You log in, browse for stuff, and click on what you want. Except instead of putting stuff into a shopping cart, they are moving slides or other files into a slide tray that gets saved as a new presentation, which they can then use in their next meeting.

On the back end, the company has a record of who used which slides and videos, just as Amazon knows that you bought shampoo and a book last week. That’s presentation management in its simplest form. But most large enterprises take the discipline further and develop a more strategic approach to presentations.

U.S. Bank is one example. The fifth-largest bank in the U.S. had challenges with its presentations that should sound familiar to any big corporation. Each department was its own presentation silo. There was no consistent branding across the decks made by people in different units, and the corporate marketing team had little control over who presented what to whom. Employees making their own decks were presenting products that didn’t exist anymore, or using variations of the brand that had long since been retired. On top of that, it was taking their employees a good five hours each to create their presentations. They were looking through a SharePoint site and network folders, opening and scrolling through random decks to copy and paste slides into a new, patchwork deck. Some decks had different backgrounds; others just had bad or old information. So countless employees wasted piles of time creating inaccurate, noncompliant (which in banking means risking the rage of regulators) slides.

Their presentation process, or lack thereof, was too rogue for a 150-year-old institution with about half a trillion dollars in assets. So U.S. Bank implemented a presentation management strategy to provide better branded content to its teams -- and take outdated content out of circulation so no one could present the wrong information ever again.

To do that, the bank contracted with us at Shufflrr to provide a cloud presentation solution. Just giving employees the ability to find the right slides and drag and drop them into presentations cut down the time required to create presentations from five hours to five minutes, U.S. Bank executive Scott Welvaert tells us. Shufflrr also comes with a variety of controls, such as permissions, updates and metrics. Corporate marketing can give access to those people who are qualified to use and present certain content. Each division can control its content for its team. If someone needs to cross-sell a product from another division, that person can easily be given access. Corporate administrators can push out updated content, which ensures that old material gets retired and every slide is up to date.

Finally, thanks to reporting and metrics, corporate marketing can see what content gets used most often and by whom. U.S. Bank finally got real data about its content and how or whether it resonates with customers or others who are on the receiving end of presentations.

It’s important to note that U.S. Bank’s presentation management solution was not just a tool with some cool features that let it arrange and control content. Adopting the technology also forced the bank’s leadership team to think about presentations in a different way. Marketing could create a corporate encyclopedia of U.S. Bank content sourced from the experts in each division, for use by the entire U.S. Bank team. It was a top-down approach that still gives individuals autonomy and flexibility to do their particular job, and do it well.

The result: U.S. Bank corporate finally had control over the brand and product message, while employees had a faster, easier way to create presentations. Presentation management is a win-win for all sides of the enterprise.

That is the competitive advantage of presentation management. It unleashes all of the great knowledge within your company’s presentations. By employing an intelligent presentation management strategy, you are giving everyone in your company the ability to talk intelligently about any aspect of the business at any time, whether or not it is their particular area of expertise. Everyone becomes as knowledgeable and articulate as the CEO. (And we’ll talk more about that later.) But that’s only part of the equation. By employing a presentation management strategy, you are also mitigating risk and increasing productivity.