Emerging Technology

WHAT WE LEARNED THIS WEEK: Death to PowerPoint

Patrick Stafford /

The Meetings and Events Australia organisation has taken an unusual stance – it wants to ban PowerPoint presentations in all of its meetings.

The group’s chief executive says too many speakers are relying on presentations, often poorly made ones, and they aren’t engaging the audience enough. Instead, they want people to tell stories, anecdotal evidence that will captivate listeners, and then provide slides and other details online later on.

Funnily enough, this is a stance taken by Apple founder Steve Jobs himself, who banished PowerPoint slides and other presentation materials from meetings, saying anyone who needed to use them didn’t know their material well enough.

If you’re using PowerPoint presentations, then maybe you should stop. Instead, ask yourself – how well do you really know the material?

Become so well-tuned that you don’t even need an aide to help you in your next meeting. Then, work on engaging the audience and you may find you get a better response.

Experiment with new models

JB Hi-Fi has been trying a few new things recently. Last year it started importing products directly from manufacturers to save money on GST, and now it’s started a new “Factory Scoops” model. It’s basically like a deal-a-day venture, except new offers aren’t posted every single day.

Essentially, it’s offering the same stock it has in stores, except for a much cheaper price.

It’s a good move for the company, which has been suffering due to the poor retail environment. Users view the internet as a discount channel and offering deals along that line could bring in new money.

This is also something other online businesses should think about. Although drastic discounts aren’t needed to attract attention, figuring out different models and experimenting with new methods is always welcome.

Don’t feel like you shouldn’t try new things because they may fail or be outside your traditional model. Try it, experiment, and then give it up if it fails. You may end up with a winning strategy.

Don’t ignore the perception of your brand

It was rumoured this week Amazon is looking at opening new bricks and mortar stores in Seattle. This would be a huge move for the company, as it has always remained online during its 15+ year history.

But as analysts point out, consumers are viewing the internet as more of a discount channel now, and Amazon is branching away from that department store perception with its own branded products.

As a result, consumers may start viewing the company as a traditional, premium, retail outlet.

This attention to brand perception is something you need to be aware of as well. Don’t let your company be perceived as a “discount” operator just because you’re online. But enough attention to detail in your company, and be aware of how you’re presenting yourself.

Make your business as accessible as possible

This week Quickflix won a $10 million investment from American television network HBO, which is operated and owned by Time Warner Cable. It’s a significant marketing boost for the company, which is attempting to become the Australian equivalent of Netflix.

And this investment comes as the company is preparing to spread its products on more devices, including Samsung and Sony televisions, PlayStation 3 consoles, along with PCs.

Right now, the company is on a marketing bent. And the only way it’s going to get bigger is if shoppers have access to Quickflix films on a number of different gadgets – as chairman Stephen Langsford told SmartCompany this earlier this week.

If you’re a business operating online, then you need to make sure your products are available in a number of different ways. Failing that, your customers should at least have access to you through any number of portals, including Google, Facebook and Twitter. Anything less suggests you’re not communicating well enough.

Facebook’s warning on the future of mobile

Facebook filed for its IPO last week, and finally revealed some interesting statistics about the company – including the fact it has over 840 million active users every month.

That’s incredible in and of itself, but the social network gave a much more interesting warning. It said that nearly half of all its visits are being tracked through mobile versions of its site, and through apps.

This is a fascinating figure, as it shows that more and more users are adopting mobile platforms not just as an aside to their desktop habits, but as a main source of access.

All of this means you simply need to be working on a mobile strategy as quickly as possible. It doesn’t need to be expensive, it doesn’t need to take months of work and it doesn’t necessarily even need to be state-of-the-art. Just make sure people can find you – it’ll make all the difference.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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