Master Your Message Blog

Cost of an Ineffective Business Presentation

Cost of an ineffective presentationHere’s a fact that I often marvel over—the staggering cost of ineffective business presentations.

I’m not talking about external sales presentations where we can fairly easily figure out the cost in lost business (these numbers can be even more heart-stopping than what I’m going to talk about here). I’m talking about internal presentations—presentations that are delivered by middle or senior managers to others within the same company.

The cost is often overlooked.

But, before I get to an example, let’s just attempt to define what we mean by “ineffective.” I’m including persuasive presentations that don’t result in immediate action of any type or do not meet their intended objective. I can tell you through experience that probably 40% of presentations in an organization don’t have a defined objective. In other words, the presenter doesn’t actually know what he or she wants the audience to do at the end of the presentation.

Very often …. ok, more than half the time, the presenter doesn’t actually “ask for the order.”

You get what you ask for.
Ask for nothing and you’ll get exactly that.

Let me give you an example. I had a gentleman in an engineering firm give a 45 minute persuasive presentation about new technology that was being introduced within the company to increase productivity. He told me that his presentation would be successful if 25% of the audience were to visit him in an upcoming internal trade show and ask questions, try out the technology, or feed back some of their concerns.

However, at the end of the presentation, he didn’t ask them to do anything of the sort. In fact, he didn’t even mention the upcoming trade show. You get what you ask for. Ask for nothing and you’ll get exactly that. I consider this an ineffective presentation.

Let’s say you’re part of a public company’s engineering division of 1500 and that your group gives 5 good-sized presentations a week of an hour in length (by good-sized, I’m suggesting a PowerPoint component of at least 20 screens). Each of these presentations is to a group of twelve skilled employees averaging $60,000 a year in salary.

That salary, when you do the math, works out to $30 an hour. Let’s increase it very conservatively by 25 percent to cover office costs, health care, and other general benefits of employment. That works out to $37.50 an hour, a very low number.

Generally a presentation is going to take at least 15 hours to prepare (I’m counting PowerPoint design, preparation, writing, and rehearsal). Add in the time of an audience of 12 people for an hour and you have a total cost so far of $1012.50—the cost of one presentation (27 hours X $37.50).

The cost of ineffective internal presentations on an annual basis is staggering.

If people in your division (1500) give five presentations a week (260 a year), the cost comes to $263,250 —over a quarter of a million dollars!

If 40% of those presentations don’t achieve their objectives or result in action of an kind, that’s a cost of $105,300. Gone.

What’s really interesting is that I haven’t included discussions after the fact, the lost opportunity cost (which can be enormous), the negative impact to morale, and the general frustration that comes from sitting through presentations that don’t have a clear goal, objective, or message. We’ve all seen lots of those!

My point is that this is a very conservative number. It’s well known that lost productivity due to ineffective presentations (and other communication) is the single biggest cost (as a result of lost productivity) to any organization.

If you’d like information on how I can help you and your team be more productive, more visible, and get more accomplished in far less time, email me. 

The key to being effective in your presentations is having a highly targeted objective, developing your presentation to support that objective, using visuals to enhance your message, and asking for the order. And speaking of “asking for the order,” just think about the cost of your major presentations that don’t get the business they’re designed to. Now those are scary numbers!

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