The Limits of Razzle-Dazzle

Company X has a problem.  Their Leader–recognized as trend-setting, dynamo by people in the upper-ranks of his industry–can come across as wooden, even defensive, when making a presentation before large audiences.

This Leader will soon be facing a very large and critical audience–the global meeting of the major investors in his company’s far-flung empire.  The case has to be made that these investors need to reach into their pockets and pony-up for a fresh wave of modernization.  To make this case, the Leader needs to get off the operational details and shift the thinking of his stakeholders to see startling possibilities.

He needs to be spellbinding.  But he isn’t.

The Company began to look at all the bells and whistles that might be added.  Celebrity guest stars.  Video.  And, of course, compelling PowerPoint.

And that is fine–up to a point.  The bottom line is that the last impressions that audience will have is the last moments of the presentation.  (By the way, comedian Tim Lee sees the funny side of PowerPoint.)  If it is an impression of a Las Vegas-style revue, they will not be motivated to change.  No gimmick can fill in for you here.  We advised Company X to work with the Leader.  Challenge him.  Find the passion that we know must exist.  And then coach him to share that passion.

The take-away for the rest of us?  PowerPoint and other A/V aides are swell.  Up to a point.  But in every important executive speech, the times comes to turn off the screen, turn up the lights, and show everyone why you are a leader.

Comedian Tim Lee sees the absurdity of PowerPoint

Comedian Tim Lee sees the absurdity of PowerPoint

Mark Davis Mark Davis has years of experience writing for leaders at the highest levels of government, politics, business and finance.

More articles by Mark Davis