The Six-Hour, 176-Slide Presentation: Don't Try This at Your Business

Carmine Gallo, who writes a weekly communications column for business owners, just sent this guest post over:

As a corporate communications coach, I work with business leaders to improve their public speaking skills and fine-tune their business presentations. Two of my central tenets: keep presentations brief and know your audience.

So when I read Jena McGregor’s and Mara Der Hovanesian’s recent story about GE’s investor presentation, the beginning of one sentence horrified me. “The six-hour 176-slide presentation…” Surely this would give new meaning to the term, “Death by PowerPoint,” or so I thought. But after reading comments from analysts who had attended the presentation and watching some of the video online, I’ve come to the conclusion that in this case—and in this case only—176 slides was completely warranted.

You see, GE executives passed that key test for delivering a good presentation–know your audience. Analysts had been clamoring for months for GE to open the books on GE Capital and to show them EVERYTHING. Well, that’s exactly what the analysts got. Michael A. Neal, president of GE Capital, opened the session by saying, “We’re going to grind through it.”

I heard from one analyst who said he had been asking for total transparency and by the fifth hour, when his butt was glued to the chair, he started second guessing his request. But in the end, he asked for details and that’s exactly what he got. “I was grateful that GE lifted the veil,” he told me.

Again, I wouldn’t recommend 176-slide approach to anyone who wants to keep an audience engaged. In this case, however, it made sense.

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