Presentation Management

Making Better Presentations; Telling Better Stories

Presentation Management 22

Original content by AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra
Enhanced by Geetesh Bajaj

In the last part of this Presentation Management series of posts, we explored some aspects of a presentation’s life cycle: social engagement, reporting, and updating. In this part, we look at why telling better stories helps make better presentations.

We like the phrase, “Content is king!” Without some quality content, any presentation management implementation is a bit of a waste.

When we started working with clients back in the ’90s, every new job was a consulting project that including writing and designing presentations. Those presentation services were initially our primary source of income. We’ve worked with clients in every industry to help them write their stories and create libraries of slides that can be used and repurposed.

In this post, we will share what we’ve learned over the years about how to create exceptional presentations, including what we’ve learned from experts about how presentations affect the brains of those on the receiving end.

Presentations are the Stories for Business

The best presenters are great storytellers. The CEO is often the best storyteller in the company.  Motivating people to act is integral to her and the company’s success, and stories do that better than statistics. Salespeople tend to be good storytellers as well, since their success is directly related to their ability to connect with customers. But employees in every department and function need to be good presenters. A research scientist can present a bunch of numbers with charts and graphs, and bore everyone to tears. But a great research presentation will tell the story of what that research means on a human level, with relatable characters and real feelings. That’s more interesting and more memorable.


You May Also Like: The Art of Storytelling: Presentations Are Corporate Storytelling by James Ontra

Imagine a Federal Express presentation to see what we mean. The FedEx company story is not just about the logistical genius of strategically placed shipping hubs combined with a fleet of trucks, cargo planes and ships, and a workforce of 250,000 delivery experts. Those are certain elements that make the company successful. But the corporate story is about helping businesses succeed. Think of a hardworking executive under pressure to meet a deadline. The executive is tired, stressed, and fearful of failure – of losing a client and losing her job because she might not deliver. All are strong emotions that we can relate to. Using FedEx, she can work until 9 p.m. and still get her product delivered to her client by 9 a.m. the next day. She gets more time to work, and her client is pleased to have the product on time. The sale gets closed. Everyone is happy.

FedEx Presentation

For this FedEx presentation, you could use images of happy executives and combine them with facts about FedEx’s locations and guarantees of timeliness. But you will remember that the executive was able to turn a harrowing situation into a success story.

So let’s make the business world a better place, one presentation – one story – at a time. Here are some tips to help you craft better business stories, and then organize them in your presentation management solution so that your team can repurpose the slides and decks for their individual meetings.

Make It Relevant. Ask So What?

Every piece of content created should answer the question, “So what?” Whether you’re creating one slide, an entire presentation, a brochure, an email or even a tweet, it should tell the audience why that point is important — and, especially, why it’s important to the intended target. It will take you out of your own head and put you in your audience’s frame of mind. That mental exercise will push you to create more compelling content.

Here are a few messages that stand alone.

  • Our sales increased 15 percent.
  • Our widgets were rated No. 1 by this prestigious industry organization.
  • You are a jerk.

Now let’s take those three statements and add “So What?”

  • Our sales increased by 15 percent, which means you will get a bonus at Christmas.
  • Our widgets were No. 1, which means you will get the best product for the lowest price.
  • You are a jerk, which means no one wants work with you, and your job is in jeopardy.

We want to know, what’s in it for me? When you’re writing a presentation, you want to flat-out tell your audience why this is important, and why they should care. Don’t expect them to make that connection on their own. As a passive listener, that’s not their job. Rather, it’s your job as an active communicator. So what? gives the audience relevance and motivation. Since the purpose of most business presentations is to get people to act, then better presentations provide really good reasons to do so. So what? gives them that reason.

In the next part of this Presentation Management series of posts, we will explore why and how you must keep your presentations short and memorable.

Presentation Management

Social Engagement, Reporting, and Updating

Presentation Management 21

Original content by AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra
Enhanced by Geetesh Bajaj

In the last part of this Presentation Management series of posts, we explored sharing and presenting options. In this part, we look at the last three aspects of a presentation’s life cycle: social engagement, reporting, and updating.

Social Sharing

PowerPoint is going social!

– Kristin Shevis, Chief Customer Officer for Clarifai, exclaimed back in 2018, when we first explained the social capability of our Shufflrr app.

It’s like Facebook or Instagram except the subject matter is your presentation content instead of your vacation pictures. (Yeah, I know, I’d prefer to see sandy beaches over org charts any day.) Users can follow, like, rate, comment, and converse about files and slides.

Here are some more aspects of using social engagement:

  • Social provides spontaneous feedback in The Wheel, helping to improve the content’s quality for its next evolution.
  • When you are collaborating with colleagues, you can see their comments directly on the slide or the file they affect, and then you can respond. Permissioned users can also see the conversation thread, so everyone can understand the context of the file and see how and why it evolved to its latest iteration.
  • On an enterprise level, users can give direct feedback to their presentation team about the content in real-time. They can write a quick comment about what’s good on a slide, or bad, or how a client reacted in a meeting given 15 minutes ago. It helps the presentation director assess the quality of the content, what’s resonating in the field and why, and provides direction for edits and updates going forward.
  • Social also provides a means to give input and share knowledge among the entire group, rather than waiting for that next big status meeting. And let’s be honest, by the time that status meeting comes around, you’ve forgotten about that slide anyway.

That’s why presentation management has commenting and other social features built-in, to keep the feedback loop continual and timely.

Social Engagement


Reporting makes presentations smarter. It gives you real intelligence about what’s working and what’s not. Data can be tracked across multiple variables: slide, file, user, group, time frame, and action. Actions are whatever you can do with a slide or file, such as upload, download, delete, update, view, share, broadcast, comment, like, rate, etc. You name it, it’s all tracked and time-stamped. Then, you can customize reports against any of these variables.

The reporting gives you real information, based upon which you can make real decisions. It helps determine what files and slides are used most often, by whom, and presented to whom? What are your most popular products? What messages have your clients been exposed to? And what have they actually purchased? From there you can determine best practices and encourage those practices across other members of your team.


Case Study: Charter Communications

Charter Communications used reporting to cut the fat. The presentation team used to create brochures, rate cards and long-form decks for every single business category across 91 local markets.

When the presentation team looked at their usage reports, they learned that their team of 1,500 reps barely used any of that content. They were successful without it.

As a result, the presentation team cut down the material they created to just one three-slide deck for each category. They stopped wasting time and money creating content that wasn’t needed. And the reps got a smaller, better-organized, library of content that was easier for them to search through.

The value of feedback in presentation management multiplies when the quantitative data in reports is combined with the qualitative feedback from social. A data log will tell you that a file was never used. But a comment from a user will tell you that the slide is butt ugly, and they are embarrassed to show it. The product wasn’t bad, just the messaging. And now you know how to fix that slide, and give your team better content. Feedback and analytics give a current and ongoing view of your marketplace.

And that brings us to…


Now that you have all of this great information about what products and content need to change, it’s useful and efficient to make the change once, and know that everyone in your organization will receive the updated version. It also helps to retire old, out-of-date, discontinued content. Ever sit in a meeting where your colleague pulls up last year’s pricing? Or worse, products that your company no longer sells? I guess he didn’t get the memo. With enterprise updating, you don’t need a memo. It just happens, automatically.

As Bob Davis of HealthTrust Purchasing Group notes,

We are always rewriting. Our account directors come back from a meeting with feedback and suggestions, and we go right back and rewrite the slides. We are always working on our slides.

With slide updating, he doesn’t worry that someone is using an older, outdated, wrong version.

With slide updating, there is a genealogy that occurs in presentations. One parent presentation begets children. When a slide is reused, dragged, and dropped into a newly created presentation, that new presentation becomes a child.

At U.S. Bank, one parent slide can exist in over 300 different presentations across the company. When the presentation director in the home office updates that one parent slide, all 300 versions get updated as well. That’s efficient, productive, compliant, and consistent messaging.


The easiest way to incent a change is to start with what’s familiar. The elements of presentation management are already familiar. We all know how to edit and create decks.  Some of us are better at it than others, but in business, we’ve all made at least one presentation. We all know how to search through a network or a website to find content. Visualization and better search takes the frustration out of that process. We know how to share files on YouTube, Dropbox, and a million other formats all the time. That’s nothing new. We spend hours commenting and liking on social media, so it’s not a stretch to do the same with your presentation content. And finally, in this age of big data, we are relying more on metrics to see what’s trending, so we make smarter decisions going forward.

In business, we give presentations every day. The elements of presentation management are not new, but presentation management is a new approach to how we treat our content and value presentations as an enterprise marketing asset. Presentation management simply makes presentations better.

In the next post of this series, we will look at how presentations are the stories for business.

Presentation Management

Sharing and Presenting

Presentation Management 20

Original content by AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra
Enhanced by Geetesh Bajaj

In the last part of this Presentation Management series of posts, we looked at the distribution of presentation content. In this part, we look at two more aspects of a presentation’s life cycle: sharing and presenting.


Sharing refers to how you share or send files to your clients and other third parties outside of your organization. This is especially important for sales, marketing, and investor relations. Those presentations directly affect the company’s image and bottom line.

This may appear like a seemingly mundane task, but it has huge implications for productivity. Files with images and videos tend to get too large and will be stripped from most corporate email systems. The file-size limit is different for every organization, so you don’t really know if your file will get through or not. Sharing gives media ad sales reps an easy way to send large video files to advertisers. Travel clients have high-resolution pictures and videos in their presentations, too. Anyone in any industry can have big files. The process of sharing these presentations is simple:

  1. Choose one or more files. They could be large PDFs, PowerPoints, images, or videos, it doesn’t matter, as long as they tell the right story.
  2. Click on Share, input your customer’s email address and within seconds your customer can view the files. Like YouTube. It’s instantaneous.

Then, you can track the consumption of the files. Did my client open it, download it, read it, ignore it–or maybe she just never received it? It’s productive to know how engaged your client is with the information you share because that will tell you how interested they are, and then help guide your next steps.

Sharing Files

Similar to the permissions we just discussed, the shared files have permissions as well: permission to download, to edit, to view only, and whether that would be for a limited time frame or in perpetuity. Users not only track how their recipients are consuming the files they send, but they can also control their usage.

Share usage is a component in reporting. One user can track his shares for his own purposes, and the team leaders, which might be the presentation director and the VP of sales, can analyze share data for all users across the enterprise. Managers can see patterns and trends in content sharing, and make content adjustments accordingly.


It wouldn’t be presentation management without the presenting. With today’s technology, there are many options for how you present your content.

Human contact is how relationships are solidified. Look people in the eyes, read their body language, watch them react to what you are saying. That is how strong relationships are built. Presentation management fosters better business relationships through higher-quality meetings. Let’s look at how in some different presentation settings.

1. One-to-one:

One-to-one meetings are less formal and more intimate. The presenter can give the presentation directly from her laptop, iPad, or even her phone. One-to-one presentations allow for more feedback and discussion. It’s also an easier format to switch to interactive mode, where the presenter selects content based on the other person’s feedback.

The presentation can follow the conversation. The presenter can learn more and therefore propose a better solution tailored to that person. These are very productive meetings.


2. One-to-several:

This is typically a conference room setting where one presenter is addressing a group of up to 20 people. A monitor or screen is needed. Though it’s more formal in nature, there is still the opportunity to go interactive as audience members raise issues and ask questions.

The FDA Advisory Committee presentations are one to several, with an emphasis on interactivity to conduct a detailed question and answer.

3. One-to-many:

This is an auditorium setting, which is more formal. Presentation management allows the presenter to give a pre-rehearsed presentation while fielding and answering questions from audience members. The ability to answer tough questions on the fly, supported by visuals, adds to the speaker’s credibility.

4. Conference:

Slide libraries are an integral tool for conference managers who need to collect and manage presentations for any number of speakers. In this scenario, your presentation management solution will manage the collection, organization, approvals, and presentations on the day of the event. It reduces the administration burden on the event managers.

Speakers send a presentation directly to the slide library, where it is automatically tagged based on pre-configured speaker credentials. Workflow settings can be applied so the presentation gets routed to the appropriate editors and/or approvers in preparation for the conference. And finally, on conference day, the presentations are already tagged and sorted so they can be assigned to the appropriate speaker, breakout room, and time.

The presentation is right there, ready to go on the podium. The speaker can even present directly from the library if your library has broadcast capability.

Linear versus interactive presentations:

A linear presentation, like your typical PowerPoint, is a pre-ordered set of slides–slide one, slide two, slide three, slide four, and on and on… It’s organized, predictable, and easy for the speaker to control. Interactive presentations are more like browsing a website:

  • You click on one thing, which leads you to another.
  • Then, someone asks a question, so you spontaneously pull up another slide, video, or image that addresses that question.

It’s free-form and it follows the conversation. Linear presentations force the conversation. Interactive presentations follow the conversation.

Interactive presentations foster productive conversations where both sides learn more about the other. In more than 20 years of presentation consulting, we’ve noticed that the more senior the executive, the more likely they are to present in interactive mode. They don’t need the security of a linear list. Though the nice thing about today’s interactive presentation tools is that they can accommodate both scenarios:

  • They can let you go off-topic and spontaneously present content, and
  • Then, click a back button to get back to the main storyline.

It’s the best of both worlds: control and spontaneity.

In the next post of this series, we will look at other aspects of a presentation’s life cycle.

Presentation Management


Presentation Management 19

Original content by AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra
Enhanced by Geetesh Bajaj

In the last part of this Presentation Management series of posts, we looked at the lifecycle of a presentation, including its creation. In this part, we look at another aspect of a presentation’s life cycle: its distribution.

Yes, you or someone else created the presentation content. That brings forth some questions:

  • Where will the content reside?
  • How will it be accessed?
  • Who gets access?
  • How do users find the specific content they need?

These questions are all related to distribution in presentation management. Now, let us answer the questions one at a time.

Where is the Content?

The content is wherever you save it. It could be on individual computers, a company network, or even on individual cloud accounts. None of these scenarios are ideal because they prevent access to many who need to use the content.

The best solution is to host the content on the cloud because that’s where users can get to it, whether they are sitting inside corporate headquarters or working from home.

Most of our clients subscribe to our hosting service. But there are a few who prefer to keep their content on the premises, in which case they install Shufflrr on their own cloud. The goal is to make sure users can get content, anywhere, anytime, from any device. There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting down at your desk to get some work done only to realize that you are locked out for some dumb reason.

– AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra, Shufflrr

How is Content Accessed?

Access begins with logging into the slide library. Users then find content through search and visualization. The quality of the slide library, visualization, content hierarchy, search and permissions will affect the ease or the difficulty with which users can successfully find what they need.

Where is the Content

What About Logins?

The no. 1 reason we get help requests: a user can’t log in, usually because he or she forgot the password or URL.

It happens all of the time for cloud services, not just for Shufflrr. Most of our clients support single sign-on (SSO). When a user is logged into the company network, he or she can access the library. There are no additional passwords to remember. To make it even easier, some clients create a dashboard of all of their services on one home page. That way employees don’t need to remember a bunch of different URLs. The benefit of SSO is that when employees leave the company, they lose access to their slide library, too. From a security standpoint, it’s tighter.

Another option is to integrate your presentation management solution with a complementary content management system (CMS) like Box or SharePoint, or a sales enablement service like Salesforce. Last, but not least, a login can be a stand-alone with unique credentials. Choose the path of least resistance, whatever will be easiest for your team to find and access their slide library.

How Does the Visual Slide Library Work?

All files in presentation management are formatted and ready to present. A slide library is a tool that visualizes the content. It makes a thumbnail of every slide in a PowerPoint presentation or page in a Word document. You can give content a quick preview, or read it closely, so you can decide if it’s the right content for your next meeting. Then, you can select the pieces of those files and reorganize them into your new presentation.

The purpose of the slide library is to turn every piece of content into a slide, ready for use. The slides are then presented to the user so he or she can decide to use it in a new presentation. Like it’s saying:

Look at me! I have some great words, with nice animations and a pretty picture. Pick me for your new presentation!

A piece of content can also say:

Present me right now in the middle of your meeting. I’ve got all the info your client is asking about, and I am ready to go.

That’s an accessible slide library with productive content.

What is Content Hierarchy?

This is how the content is organized. It’s a combination of folders, subfolders, and tags.  A good place to start when trying to decide how to organize your content is to look at how your company is organized: by product, by service, by region, etc. For example, pharmaceuticals organize their content by drug and disease. Financial services companies usually organize their slide library by banking service: retail banking, wealth management, business banking, etc. International cruise lines organize their content by tour destinations and ships. Also consider the purpose of the content: case studies, company histories, product overviews, and executive bios all serve different objectives. The objective of a piece of content will determine where to put it in the hierarchy and who will be given access.

Content hierarchy is integral to presentation strategy. Your presentation management team will ask what is the content, who will present it, and in what business setting. The answers to those questions will guide the content hierarchy for your library, and guide the permissions.

What is Content Hierarchy?

How Does the Search Function Operate?

No matter how well-structured that hierarchy is, everyone’s thought process is different. Think of a 10-year-old boy looking for his socks. He calls down to his mother, “Mom, where are my socks?”  She replies, “In your room, where they belong.” 

She’s thinking about the dresser. But the poor child is looking on the floor because that’s where little boys think all things should go, including socks. Two different perspectives in the same place, for the same item. And that’s why a visual search tool is critical for distribution.

Visual search lets you preview thumbnails of the search results, so you can skim through your options before you make a choice.

Contextual search, where the files are automatically indexed upon inclusion in your slide library, will minimize the need for additional meta-tags, and compensate for content hierarchy limitations. Contextual search means that all of the text that occurs naturally within the file: the file name, the titles and subtitles, the body copy, and for PowerPoint speaker notes, is automatically searchable.

Filtering search parameters allows users to zoom into a subset of content. When you have a library of 1,000 files and 10,000 slides, the ability to set your own search parameters will save users a lot of time wasted browsing through the wrong files.

In presentation management, we just want to make sure that everyone and anyone can find the files they need.  Advanced search tools help achieve that.

Metadata, which is just a fancy word for tags, are another tool for organizing and searching for content. If a word naturally occurs within the context of the copy, then you don’t need to tag it. It will show up in the search. Add tags to a slide or file when it won’t naturally show up in search. Tags can also provide another way to organize the content. Tag a hundred files, and when the user does a search against that one tag, a clean list of files will appear.

What about Permissions?

Permissions are a critical element of distribution because they direct the right content to the individuals and groups who need it most. And permissions hide content from people who should not use it. We wouldn’t want to burden a research assistant with financial content, for instance.

Permissions are a matrix of content access and functionality: who gets access to which files, and what are they allowed to do with those files. The answers to the questions below will be different for different members of your team. For example, an end-user in the field will have fewer editing permissions than a brand manager who is responsible for creating and updating her team’s content. Most of our clients create groups of users with the same permissions. The groups, like the content structure, represent the different lines of business, regions, or executive levels in the company.

Here are some permissions that can be granted or denied. When applied to your organization, permissions allow for control of the message and mitigate risk caused by misuse of content.  “They” in this case refers to individuals and groups. “They” will have a different permission level depending on who they are, and what they need to accomplish.

Permissions granted or denied
Can they see it?
Can they use the content, as is?
Can they download it, remove it from the system?
Can they download it in editable format?
Can they download it in a locked or PDF format to prevent editing?
Can they edit content?
Can they contribute content?
Can they organize the content into a hierarchy for their colleagues?
Can they force those edits on other users?
Can they mix and match that file with other files?
Can they give other company users access to it?
Can they share it with a third party?
Can they make comments on a piece of content, a file or slide or video?
Can they “like” or rate the content?
Can they see and configure reports?
Can they grant or deny permissions?

Distribution is ultimately about productivity with control of the content, who is using it, and how they are using it. The purpose of control is to reduce risk and ensure consistent and accurate messaging across your organization.

In the next post of this series, we will look at sharing content from within your presentation management solution.

Presentation Management

Lifecycle of a Presentation

Presentation Management 18

Original content by AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra
Enhanced by Geetesh Bajaj

In the last part of this Presentation Management series of posts, we looked at strategies to collect and use the content for presentation management. In this part, we look at the life cycle of a presentation, which can be surprisingly much longer and more expansive than what many of us imagine.

Our presentations never finish, says Bob Davis, associate vice president of marketing for HealthTrust Purchasing Group, the purchasing division for HCA Healthcare, which operates 178 hospitals and 119 surgical centers throughout the United States and the United Kingdom.

In presentation management, files are never done. Instead, they evolve, just like the businesses they represent. Slides and decks continually morph and adjust to the market and to the world in which the business operates. The companies and organizations that get the most out of presentation management evolve their content through a constant lifecycle – or what we call The Wheel.

The Wheel looks like this:

Lifecycle of a Presentation

The process illustrated by The Wheel involves seven steps that generally follow each other, leading back to the beginning:

  1. Creation
  2. Distribution
  3. Sharing
  4. Presenting
  5. Social
  6. Reporting
  7. Updating

As we describe the elements in this post and subsequent ones, you will notice that they overlap. In nature when something evolves there is no clearly defined start and obvious end to a phase, but rather things morph. The same holds true for your presentation files. They morph from one phase to the next in the communication cycle of a corporate presentation.

  1. The first step is creation–the act of creating slides and other content for presentations.
  2. Once created, the files are distributed through the presentation management system – into the cloud to be accessed by anyone with permission.
  3. Sharing goes hand-in-hand with distribution – in this case, sharing content with others inside or outside the enterprise.
  4. Presenting is the act of using the content to present.
  5. Socializing the presentation is a way to get comments and feedback.
  6. Reporting means gathering data about how content is being used to better understand what’s effective.
  7. Then all of that feedback and data can be used to update and improve slides and decks – a new act of creation that starts the process all over again.

Let’s break down the details of each step.

Presentation Creation

In presentation management, creation means both content collection as well as the actual creation of a file.

A lot of good content probably already exists around your company. It’s a matter of identifying the files, and then deciding if they are presentation management-worthy – for short, PMW. How do you determine if a file is PMW? Presentation management addresses both the long-term enterprise vision and the tactical day-to-day needs of employees. We suggest starting with the experts for each division. They most likely have great content for their particular product on hand.

Cooper Standard asked the regional leaders around the world as well as the directors for each product line. Each director made recommendations for how their content should be used, and then they contributed the content.

As you review your company’s content, ask yourself:

  • Which files cover enterprise information,
  • Which files cover tactical information and
  • Which files cover both?

What content represents a big picture? What content is going to get my sales rep to close the deal? Or move a project forward? Or educate a new hire? What are the team’s objectives? That will determine which content is PMW.

Presentation Creation

Content can be created in any application. PowerPoint is the most obvious. Thirty million PowerPoint presentations get created every day. PowerPoint is broken into individual slides, and each slide is a story in itself. PowerPoint makes it really easy to prepare presentations for those tactical, everyday meetings that keep the company humming along.

But presentation management doesn’t have to be confined to PowerPoint. It can work with other apps. Apple’s Keynote has great visuals and effects; Google Slides is cloud-based, which makes access easy; and Prezi is a popular app to create interactive presentations. Presentation management works with all file types that your team members use every day to get their job done: videos, images, Word docs, PDFs, spreadsheets, you name it. Make content in Photoshop, Quark, or Apple iMovie; it doesn’t matter as long as the files can be previewed, reused, and repurposed when needed. Anything that can be presented to and discussed with one or more people is content that should be considered in your presentation management strategy.

Compliance should go hand-in-hand with creation to make sure content is up-to-date, accurate, branded, and approved. Your industry will determine your compliance requirements, which can be implemented and enforced through the presentation management platform. Here are a few examples of compliance:

1. Legal Compliance

In highly regulated industries like health care and finance, strict rules govern what can be presented, to whom, by whom, in what format or context, and finally with proper disclosures and disclaimers. Your presentation management strategy can manage this content in three ways:

  1. First, with routing and workflow approvals that ensure that the lawyers and regulators have approved the content before it becomes available to the team.
  2. Second, with file- or slide-locking features to prevent your team from changing text or other content.
  3. And third, by linking features to force required disclaimer and disclosure statements along with the content where appropriate.

With presentation management, you can force your dispersed team to present content in a very specific way – a way that complies with the law and reduces your company’s risk of lawsuits and fines. Our banking clients used slide linking to match the proper disclosure statement to the corresponding slide.

2. Brand Compliance

Brand compliance refers to brand guidelines, graphics, colors, fonts, logos, and templates for all files that follow the brand’s guidelines. The benefits are twofold:

  1. First, you achieve consistent branding across the enterprise.
  2. Second, because your employees are starting with higher-quality content, they appear more polished and professional, but they also become more productive.

As they repurpose presentations, they can actually focus on the specifics of their project or deal instead of trying to play graphic designer to make the slides look nice. We encourage all our clients to use only branded content. Start with the best.

3. Message Compliance

What your employees say and how do they say–both are critical to your company’s success. Message compliance ensures that your team is using the right language and the right version of the slide or file. It’s achieved through good old-fashioned copywriting. And, like legal compliance, it can also be achieved through slide- and file-linking.

For example, if a case study is five slides long, you can link all five slides, so if a user chooses one, he or she always gets all five.

This approach ensures that employees are forced to present the case study in its entirety, enabling them to tell the whole story, and not just the bits and pieces that they like. (Imagine if we could do that in our personal lives. There would be no misunderstandings, no rumors, or good gossip! And then we’d have nothing to talk about over cheap Chardonnay.)

Compliance - Legal, Brand and Message

Your presentation management strategy is as good as the presentation content provided. Collecting, creating, and policing all of a company’s content may seem like a big task, and it may very well be the first time around. But once that investment has been made, it will make everyone in your organization more productive, and the lifecycle will perpetuate itself as part of the normal course of business. It’s a one-time investment that reaps exponential rewards.

In the next post of this series, we will look at the other steps within the lifecycle of a presentation.

Presentation Management

Collect Content

Presentation Management 17

Original content by AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra
Enhanced by Geetesh Bajaj

In the last part of this Presentation Management series of posts, we explored how training can start your conversation about presentation management. In this part, we look at how your presentation management strategy can only be as good as the content you collect and provide.

Your presentation management strategy is only as good as the content provided.

Systems, protocols, features, functions, cutting-edge technology, and good intentions are all great. But content is king! Both U.S. Bank and Cooper Standard introduced slide libraries with the best content – branded, up to date, accurate, well-designed, well-written content. When word got out at U.S. Bank that there was a library that had all the good content, and all you had to do was drag and drop, requests for access increased and the presentation management mentality started to spread.

Content is how you balance the enterprise with the individual – the strategic with the tactical.

You can start from scratch and create all-new content. Luckily, that’s not a requirement. Most of this content, enterprise and tactical, already exists. It’s already saved on your network somewhere, embedded in other presentations, brochures, videos, etc. So it’s a matter of identifying it and then including it in your presentation management initiative.

Collect Content

The trick is to make sure that your presentation cloud includes both aspects of your business: the enterprise files and the tactical files, that can then be broken down into pieces where individuals can select and organize a new presentation for their own meeting.

Now you might be thinking something like, “You want me to parse through all of those files on our mess of network? Ugh!”

Content collection may seem like a daunting task, arguably worse than spring cleaning. There are probably thousands of files on your network, so where do you start? It’s really not as bad as it sounds. Big tasks are easier to accomplish when broken down into manageable chunks. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to content, but there are a couple of practical approaches we suggest when helping our own clients execute their presentation management strategy.

The last 50

  • Sort through your network by date, and select the latest 50 presentations (or 100 or 30 or whatever number of files seems right for your organization), and other files that were created. This will give you the most up-to-date content to start with.
  • Review the files.
  • Delete redundant slides.
  • Apply consistent brand standards, i.e., backgrounds, fonts, style, etc., to all files and slides.
  • Organize them into smaller decks based on subject.
  • Include high-level corporate information.
  • Include product and service details.

Delegate to divisions

  • Ask marketing managers from each division to contribute presentation content for their team. After all, they’re the ones who are closest to their product messaging and to their presenters’ needs.
  • Include corporate marketing and communications as their own divisions. They are great sources for enterprise content.
  • Review for duplication.
  • Delete redundant slides and content.
  • Apply consistent brand standards, i.e. backgrounds, fonts, style, etc., to all files and slides.
Tactical Content

Users need slides and files to do their job. The goal of presentation management is to provide that tactical content to them in an easy, effective way. When your team sees compliant, productive content that they need to do their job within their presentation management solution, they will not just warm up to the new solution, they will embrace it. Remember when we talked about starting with “what’s familiar.” Well, your team is very familiar with the content they need to succeed in their job. Give them what they want.


Let us now look at takeaways from the last few posts in this Presentation Management series:

  1. Assign someone or group to own and direct your company’s presentation management initiative.
  2. Launch in phases. Add content in phases. And train in phases.
  3. Start with what’s familiar.
  4. Training is like an ongoing conversation. Provide a range of training options and opportunities for your team to learn about and adapt to presentation management.
  5. Content is king! Give your team the content they need, formatted, and ready to present, and they will embrace your new presentation management solution.

In the next post of this series, we will look at the lifecycle of a presentation.

Presentation Management

Training Starts the Conversation

Presentation Management 16

Original content by AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra
Enhanced by Geetesh Bajaj

In the last part of this Presentation Management series of posts, we explored the culture of presentation content management. In this part, we look at how proper training can help overcome many challenges.

Training provides a two-fold opportunity.

  1. First, it teaches the users how to use the new platform—click here, drag and drop there, etc.
  2. Second, training provides an opportunity to help your team embrace this new communication strategy called presentation management.
Training Starts the Conversation

Cooper Standard is a world leader in automotive and aviation parts with over 30,000 employees. We developed a training program with them that covered the “how” and the “why” for presentation management and included multiple touchpoints to reach such a diverse and geographically dispersed group.

Chris Andrews, the Director of Digital and Marketing Communications for Corporate Communications, and her marketing team of writers and designers created a library of branded, compliant presentations.

  • For their presentation management launch, Andrews served as the presentation director and her team acted as the presentation task force.
  • They started their slide library with high-level information about product lines, including sealing systems, fuel- and brake-delivery systems, and fluid-transfer systems.
  • They also included a slide about each facility. And then, the team started talking with their division and regional leaders about presentation management.

Here’s how Andrews’ team approached the task:

1. Training the influencers

Once Andrews and her team had a foundation for their library, they scheduled sessions with the regional leaders in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Since the attendees were joining from four continents, Andrews’ team conducted the sessions via web meeting.

We showed them Shufflrr’s features and functions, but more importantly, Andrews discussed why Cooper Standard was moving toward a presentation management platform, and how this new platform was going to make it easier and better for employees and partners to distribute and share accurate and branded slides all over the world.

While the products may be the same, business protocols and cultures are very different from country to country. So, Andrews asked each attendee how he or she thought it would affect that region and how the system should be rolled out. For example, Asia required a different language and alphabet. So, we worked specifically with that director to tailor a separate training program for the Asia region. The meetings were less how-to tutorial and more conversation. Everyone participated.

2. Training the users

With such a dispersed group, our team at Shufflrr collaborated with Cooper Standard and created several means of training with different touchpoints.

The first and, we believe, most impactful was in-person classroom training. We hosted several training sessions in different offices around Michigan, where Cooper Standard is headquartered. Those who could not physically attend could log in through Webex.

Andrews began these sessions with the reasons Cooper Standard launched a presentation management initiative. She explained to her colleagues that presentation management would make it much easier for them to assemble a presentation.

She started each session by showing off all of the new content that her team had created, the library of polished, professional product and facility slides, the videos, and other materials that were now so easy to find and use. She also emphasized that the slides in the library coincide with Cooper Standard’s larger brand initiative. Users could get their jobs done and build the company’s image. It balanced the enterprise marketing goals with the daily needs of employees.

We then showed them how the system works. However, with every feature demonstration, we gave a reason why that feature was important. We showed them how to receive a slide update, but we also explained that slide updating would ensure that they had the latest, branded version of that slide. Since Cooper Standard is continually innovating, slide updating is a feature that users will want so they can keep up.

3. More web training

It’s impossible to get everyone in the same room or on the same webinar. This is also true for smaller companies. We scheduled multiple sessions across several months to give everyone an opportunity to participate.

4. Ask for feedback

Andrews understood that training doesn’t end with the session. It’s easy to lose people’s attention once they leave a meeting. Her team sent out a survey asking for feedback and suggestions on the presentation management program and the training sessions so we could improve as we continued. The request for feedback is a means to keep the conversation going.

5. Make it fun and rewarding

Adoption is usage, and the marketing team needed to get their colleagues to embrace and start using the new presentation management solution. So, marketing created a contest.

  • The game consisted of a series of exercises to complete in Shufflrr, using features and functions highlighted during training sessions. The catch is that they hid a slide in the library, the Golden Slide.
  • As part of the game, aka practice exercises, users were asked to create a new presentation that included the Golden Slide and send it back to Andrews using Shufflrr’s share feature.
  • To play the game, they had to search, preview, drag and drop, save a new presentation and share. They had to use and learn their tool’s features.
  • Those who completed the task got a prize. While playing the game, employees were learning how to use their new slide library. And they could win cool stuff.

6. Training materials

With the understanding that you will never get everyone with one program, Andrews provided her colleagues with how-to videos, long-form recording of live training, and cheat sheets. The idea is that anyone can reference any of these materials within their presentation management system when it’s convenient for them.

Andrews and her team at Cooper Standard understood that training is an ongoing conversation. She did not expect a global team to change their habits and thinking around presentations after one 45-minute session. She also understood that it’s not a one-way lecture. She engaged her colleagues, each group at their own level, and step-by-step, encouraged them to think differently about the role of Cooper Standard presentations within the company.

Launch in Phases

Launch in Phases

If your company is a large enterprise with 1,000-plus users dispersed over several different divisions, start small. Pick a subset—one division and its content. First off, it makes content collection easier. You only have to collect and organize content for one product instead of 15. Second, a pilot team of 50 instead of 500 is much easier to manage. It gives you an opportunity to work out the kinks before going live to the entire organization.

When U.S. Bank started deploying presentation management, its objective was to implement the solution across the organization, for 1,000 users. But it started small, with 100 users, and progressively added content and users every month. The bank hosted regular training sessions for new users and was able to accept feedback and make changes as it went along. Management created a cycle to:

  • Add content,
  • Train,
  • Get feedback,
  • Adjust,
  • Add more content,
  • Train another group,
  • Get feedback,
  • Adjust, and
  • Keep going.

It was a step-by-step process of managed growth. Through that process, the bank onboarded its goal of 1,000 users and then got 500 additional requests to join the system. Word got out, and presentation management spread throughout the bank.

In the next post of this series, we will look at how your presentation management strategy is only as good as the content provided and collected.

Presentation Management

Culture of Presentation Management

Presentation Management 15

Original content by AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra
Enhanced by Geetesh Bajaj

In the last part of this Presentation Management series of posts, we looked at how we can make our presentation content intelligent. In this part, we explore the culture of presentation management.

Change is hard, especially in a large organization. People are afraid of the unknown. The familiar is our security blanket. Knowing where we will be and what we will be doing tomorrow makes us feel safe. Any effort to change that, especially in our jobs–our livelihoods–will be resisted.

This is one of those strange ironies of life. Most of us know that change is imminent, and we still resist change. Here’s a famous quote about change.

Remember that the only constant in life is change.

– Gautama Buddha

Now, we are not using that quote to further the dialog about change. However, over the years, as we’ve worked with clients to launch their new presentation strategy, we’ve found that there are a few steps you can take to help your team embrace presentation management:

  • Some of them are concrete, like training.
  • Others are more psychological, like how to change someone’s predisposition toward doing things a certain way.

In this post, we will discuss the approaches you can take to lead your team into a presentation management culture. And these approaches will also help you jump-start your presentation initiative.

Culture of Presentation Management
Image: One of the photos in collage by Gabriel García on Scopio

Presentation management has two core tenants, and every step you take in your presentation management initiative should ultimately lead to those objectives. Revisit these tenants from time to time to make sure you stay on track.

  1. Transform your presentations from one-and-done tactical files to enterprise assets.
  2. Balance the long-term enterprise objectives and the individual needs of everyday employees.

The goal is to balance the presentation needs of both the individual and the enterprise

Balance the presentation needs

Director of Presentation Management

Presentation management is a disciplined approach to executing that strategy. The strategy guides who in your organization can present what message, to whom and when. It balances the objectives of the enterprise with the individual’s needs. The approach is similar to any other marketing communications discipline, like advertising, public relations and event marketing. It has a similar process:

  1. Define objectives,
  2. Plan,
  3. Execute,
  4. Measure, and then
  5. Revise

The director of presentation management, with the help of strategists, should spearhead your company’s presentation management effort.

This person, or task force depending on the size and complexity of your company, should:

  • Have an understanding of your company’s messaging and branding.
  • Be able to ensure that the presentation material is consistent with the company’s mission.
  • Also have an understanding of the company’s product and service lines to determine what kind of content to include in the library.

Your presentation director should be a relatively senior executive who understands the business, its subdivisions, and has a sense of what the team members need to succeed in their roles. This is a role that probably already exists in your company. Some individual or a group, usually in marketing, has taken on this task by default because it’s important.

Think of a museum curator who assembles the best collection of art. The presentation director is going to curate the best collection of your company’s slides. He may source corporate communications to get high-level content about the company. Then, to address the day-to-day presentation needs of individuals, the director can source content about specific products and services. In bigger companies, the presentation director usually delegates this task to managers from each division.

Director of Presentation Management
Image: Collage created using pictures from Pickit

Cooper Standard, a global enterprise with over 100 locations across four continents, sourced content from each product line and region to create a comprehensive library.

Yes, you must get the content from the subject matter experts, wherever they are. Once the content is collected, the director can organize the high-level corporate content with detailed product content into one central cloud location.

A presentation director is the curator of presentation content.

Promote the Benefits – It’s PM for Them

Appeal to your employees’ self-interest. Let your team know how presentation management will make their presentations better and easier.

U.S. Bank – Deploying a Presentation Management Solution

Shufflrr US Bank Case Study

U.S. Bank surveyed its team members to understand their presentation pain points before choosing a solution.

The bank found that, above all else, users really needed an easier way to find approved slides, so they wouldn’t be forced to create their own.

When the bank was ready to launch presentation management, management was able to communicate that this new presentation initiative would standardize content, push out slide updates, and save time when preparing decks. That’s what the users needed, so management led with their needs.

Read more about how various companies deployed presentation management solutions at the Shufflrr Case Studies page.

Show Them It’s Familiar: “You Already Know How to Do This”

Once employees understand how presentation management makes their work-lives better, show them that it’s already familiar. If you want your child to eat more fish, you don’t serve her steamed sea bass with capers and onions in a spicy tomato sauce. You start with fish sticks because fish sticks are pretty close to chicken fingers. And all kids like chicken fingers.

Draw similarities to what employees already know and do. For example, presenting in interactive mode, where they are pulling up slides on the fly, might seem intimidating. They lose the familiarity and structure of their linear PowerPoint. But they already tell stories through interactive presentations every day in their personal lives, especially if they’re Millennials (see what Robert Gaskins, the creator of PowerPoint says about Millennials).

Here’s a familiar scenario that shows what we mean:

Suzanne and John are best buddies, but they haven’t seen each other in a while. After rescheduling multiple times, they’ve finally caught up for dinner and drinks.

Standing at the bar, while waiting for their table John asks Suzanne, “How was your vacation?”

“Amazing!” Suzanne responds with delight. “We took the kids to Disney World. Funniest thing, my 4-year-old, Eric, has a huge crush on all of the Disney Princesses.”  She takes out her phone and starts scrolling through pictures. “Look at him blushing with Cinderella. Too cute!  He’s going to be mortified by this when he’s older. And then we left the kids at my folks and hit the beach for a few days to reboot.” Suzanne shows a few more pictures of her and her husband enjoying a romantic dinner.  “How about you?”

“I have a job interview in two days at Acme Company. It would be a promotion and a raise. I’m so sick of my current job right now. I need to nail this.”

“My friend used to work at Acme. Who are you meeting with?”

“Mike Whatshisface, he’s the SVP of marketing,” John replies. Suzanne starts the recon. She sends an inquiring text to her friend and does a Google search to get some more info on Mike Whatshisface.  They both look at Suzanne’s phone.

They pull up his LinkedIn profile and see that he started out in sales. Suzanne advises John, “The guy has a sales background. Better talk about your experience in terms of results.  You know, focus more on the results you’ve achieved and less about the process and details.”

Then they go to Google images and find a picture of Mike Whatshisface and his wife at a charity event.

Meanwhile, Suzanne’s friend replies to her text with a bitmoji of her running in fear, “Mike Whatshisface is a total jerk. Tell John … Run awaaaay!”

They both break out in laughter and order another round of drinks.

That’s an interactive story, using a mobile phone to present “slides” as the conversation unfolds. The content on your phone is formatted to present. Your phone is essentially a slide deck with the presentation following the conversation. When discussing interactive presentations, draw comparisons to what’s already familiar.

Other aspects of presentation management should be familiar to most people, too. Your team already knows how to search and shop for stuff on Amazon, put pictures of items into a shopping cart, and buy with one-click. Well, with a new presentation management initiative, employees are going to be able to do the same thing, except with slides instead of items, which users will save into a new deck instead of a shopping cart.

In the next post of this series, we will look at how training will help you start the conversation about presentations management.

Presentation Management

Making Presentations Intelligent

Presentation Management 14

Original content by AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra
Enhanced by Geetesh Bajaj

In the last part of this Presentation Management series of posts, we looked at how better storytelling can make your content stand apart. In this part, we look at making your presentation content intelligent.

At first, presentation management might seem like taking PowerPoint and other files and putting them on a cloud with a few frills. But there’s another aspect of presentations that comes alive once they are managed in a cloud environment where they can be tracked.

Presentations throw off data. Every word and pixel is data. Every time a slide gets used, the data can tell us who used it, and where and how it was used. The data can tie sales presentations, for instance, to deals closed, which means the data could show which slides helped sell the most.

All of that data can be captured and analyzed in ways that help make every presentation better.

Where do you get the data?

Reports in Shufflrr

Yes, data can be helpful, but where do you get this data from? The answer is Reporting.

Any Presentation Management solution contains a Reporting module. For example, Shufflrr’s Reporting module has many reports, including the DashboardFileSlideUserActivityLikesComments, and Shares.

Presentation management tracks the usage of files and slides in different scenarios. This provides a concrete understanding of what files, what messages and what products are being used and by whom.

Data can be captured and analyzed

Additionally, Presentation management includes social tools for users in the field to give feedback in real-time, associated with actual content and activity. Users can comment and collaborate on files and slides through conversation threads, comments, likes, etc. in real-time, spontaneously. It’s like Facebook, except for marketing material instead of someone’s vacation.

As Alex says:

I know I’d rather look at sunsets on a sandy beach than last quarter’s sales figures, too. But we need those sales to afford the beach vacation.

The combination of data and anecdotes from the field provides a full picture of how the content is performing, and where and how to make adjustments to your message and content as your business evolves.

Machine Learning and Modeling

Artificial Intelligence is about organizing enormous amounts of data, drawing conclusions and acting on them. Again, where does this data come from? The ubiquity of mobile technology has made it possible to collect data from millions of users’ activity, then analyze and apply it to some purpose.

  • For Amazon, this means suggesting products for you to buy based on what you purchased last month, and what you’re browsing through today.
  • For Google, it means finishing phrases, suggesting search terms based on what you just started to type into the search window, or based on what ads or articles you clicked on.

These actions are tracked, and the data collected.

The more actions are tracked, the more data gathered, the better AI can make “suggestions” or predict actions and behaviors. Then those actions are further tracked, analyzed and as a result, AI can fine-tune and improve. AI builds on itself, over generations of data.

Acronyms: ML and AI

The technology industry loves acronyms, and AI has almost become part of our vocabulary. ML is less popular, but related.

Let’s list their full forms:

AI: Artificial Intelligence
ML: Machine Learning

It is through ML that AI gets more intelligent and richer. And like we say in the real world, “Learning never stops;” that’s true for ML or machine learning too!

Shufflrr, as a presentation management platform, uses both ML and AI, but did you know that PowerPoint also uses both to help you create slides? One example is the PowerPoint Designer feature.

Not surprisingly, this AI applies to presentations. That’s because presentations are no longer one-and-done lone files; they are enterprise assets. The same files are used and reused throughout many different scenarios, and results are collected, tracked, and analyzed. It’s the foundation for intelligent presentations — what we call Predictive SlidesTM.

Predictive Slides will suggest which files and slides you should include in your new presentation based on who you are, to whom you are presenting and what you have presented in the past. During meetings, Predictive Slides will suggest slides based on how that conversation is progressing. This is the future of presentations, and we’ll get into much more on that in subsequent posts of this series.

Machine Learning and Modeling

In the next post of this series, we will look at the culture of presentations management.

Presentation Management

Presentation Management Options

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