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It’s not the size of your data. It’s what...

Jack Welch

Death By PowerPoint

6th January 2015 |

You live and die by your sales presentations.
Are they up to speed?

January 28, 1986. 73 seconds into its flight, the space shuttle Challenger broke apart. Its disintegration was triggered by the failure of an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster.

Prior to launch, the possibility of O-ring failure had been addressed. A PPT slide shown to NASA engineers addressed the historical failure of this part at certain temperatures.


Simple, right? Just a little rocket science.

Shockingly, nobody drew that conclusion from the fatal slide. Edward Tufte, data designer, said of this layout, “This display contains all the information necessary to diagnose the relationship between temperature and damage, if we could only see it … there is a scandalous discrepancy between the intellectual tasks at hand and the images created to serve those tasks.”

Of course, most PPT-related deaths aren’t quite so literal. Everybody who’s been in the business world for more than a few minutes has a story about a presentation that bored them to death. Is it the medium? Sometimes. It’s probably possible to make a boring PPT presentation about the Rolling Stones Altamont show (complete with groupie infographics and direct quotes from Mick in the speaker notes). Your sales presentations can contain exciting insight into the benefits of a new product, backed up with well-researched speaker notes, and you can still crash and burn. The same technology that has allowed us to put entire books onto devices no bigger than a candy bar is often used to pour more and lengthier information into presentations rather than streamline them. As attention spans shrink, the way we present ideas grows more tedious and less human. This is a dangerous combination for sales.

These troubles are even more apparent in health care presentations. Communicating sometimes-challenging, often-complicated ideas to an audience that’s more concerned with the cat videos playing on their phones than with how your brand’s advancements can save them time and money can seem like an insurmountable challenge. That’s the challenge one of our health care clients was facing. To help them recapture their sales targets’ attention, we needed two things—first, to revisit the basics of what makes a compelling presentation. Second, create a medium that builds on those basics in order to use technology in a more intuitive, human way.



attention span

The medium is the message.
If you’re talking leading-edge, ahead-of-the-curve innovation, SHOW that innovation, too. There’s nothing new about 20 slides and a handout. That’s more or less what Moses brought down off the mountain. (People are still talking about that presentation, though.)

Talk to people like they’re people.
There’s nothing less impressive than jargon. Your ability to express the complicated thoughts behind what your company is doing in plain, human language allows you to speak not just to industry insiders, but to everyone.

Watch the birdie.
Movement catches attention. Static is never good—whether it’s on your radio, in your laundry, or describing your presentations. Kinetic, interactive ways of presenting information have been proven to help audiences retain that information longer.


This is where we started. Where we ended up was Bossa.

powerpoint alternatives bossa

Bossa is a presentation program, an app, and an intuitive, human way to tell your story. It begins with the way people absorb information now—they want a 1:1 relationship with their content. Bossa presentations are offered up on iPads, (which means audiences aren’t holding/looking at their phones) as you lead them through a presentation that’s more conversational, less linear.

Each “slide” is more than a slide—it’s an immersive experience that allows you to tailor your content to your audience—they click on highlights when they want to learn more, interacting with your offerings in a meaningful way. Through multi-layered content and the ability to “drive” their own presentation-within-the-presentation, the audience is engaged on all levels—visual, auditory, and kinetic (remember the birdie?).

And what about when the dance is over? In olden times, you’d leave behind some stapled-together copies and return to your office to wait by the phone. No more. With the touch of a screen, you can share PDF versions of your presentation with your audience—and use the built-in analytics to see what they’re actually opening. These insights will let you know what’s working, and what’s not, informing future iterations of your sales presentations.

The client we originally created Bossa for has found so much value in Version 1 that we’re now leveraging live data feeds to make it even more robust for Version 2. It’s proving our premise that WHAT you present is only one part of the package—HOW you present is just as important. If the question is “How do we dramatically increase engagement without watering down our message,” then Bossa is our answer. And whether it’s applying some of the basics that inspired Bossa, or contacting us to talk about how we can make Bossa work for you, we hope you found some answers. And we hope your next presentation kills—but not from boredom.

Click here to see what Bossa can bring to your presentation.

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