Slip, Slidin’ Away
Social media tools
are making the
standard (and often
presentation a thing
of the past
professionals are incorporating video
and social media tools into their presentations or, like Sommers’ customers,
eschewing digital technology altogether.
BY GWEN SHAFFER
When Corey Sommers found himself
sitting next to a prospective client on
a flight, he grabbed the airsickness bag
from the seat pocket in front of him.
Sommers began sketching out his company’s approach and objectives, “and the
woman next to me left the airplane with
that bag,” Sommers recalls.
It is this kind of spontaneous and
interactive presentation technique
that inspired Sommers to co-found
Whiteboard Selling in 2007. The company trains sales professionals to shift
away from their reliance on PowerPoint
slides and, instead, to embrace “the
power of the pen.” Teams from IBM,
Symantec, Software AG and a dozen
other information technology companies have gone through the training and
now integrate these “visual storytelling”
techniques into their sales pitches.
“You’ll never write something on
the whiteboard that’s not in your head,”
Of course, not every presenter is
ready to swap his or her overhead projector for four brightly colored markers.
However, business consultants agree
that they have noticed a trend away
from standard slide shows. Increasingly,
Remember Thy Audience
Beth Kanter, a blogger based in Los
Altos, Calif., and social media consultant
for nonprofits, says Web 2.0 tools can
help meet the needs of audience members. For instance, Kanter asks audiences
to send Twitter messages from their
smartphones during her presentations.
Kanter then projects these questions and
comments onto a screen, in real time.
“Social media allows the audience to
give instant feedback and to exert more
control,” Kanter says. “Sometimes, audiences are hard to read. By monitoring
their tweets, I know instantly whether
people are puzzled or engaged.”
Kanter also teaches her clients a technique she’s dubbed “wikitation.” Rather
than distributing paper handouts or
posting a stagnant slide show on a website, Kanter recommends creating a site
using wiki software. This format is easily
edited by anyone and enables pages to be