Life sometimes has a funny way of forcing you to make decisions, or clarifying what you should be focused on. Suddenly, out of the blue, you get an email from your boss that he is having a meeting with the CEO of the company. This is not a small company. That makes the meeting a big deal.
Your boss wants to share the success of your content marketing program. This is the content that you have been wrangling for months. Writing. Designing. Launching. Sharing. Measuring.
It’s persona-driven. It’s driving leads. You can even track it through to sales.
Oh, and you only get one slide.
What to Do When It’s Your Turn to Present
If you work in a big company, you know that we communicate through PowerPoint. Slides are the language of corporate America. This is the polar opposite of that highly relevant, engaging, and entertaining content you and your team have been creating. It’s through this language that you’ll have to distill your success down to its barest bones.
What does a high level summary really look like? What does a chief executive really care about? He runs the company. Is your business unit meeting its numbers? Your content marketing is contributing to those numbers. It’s not responsible for the most deals, but it’s worth talking about. If you can’t talk about sales, talk about leads. Look for the biggest numbers you can find.
That could be single number on slide, but that doesn’t tell a story. A snapshot of current results is okay if it’s all you have, but executives are more interested in trends. How do your results compare to last month? Or last quarter? Or last year? And if that trend line is not up and to the right, then you better find a different story to tell.
Corporate America is all about growth. The daily stock market reports sends us that message every day. If you can’t show how your efforts have grown, take a highlights approach. You know those sales presentations that feature big name brands or big deals? You can do the same thing with content reporting.
That one-slide limit forces you to put forward the most compelling narrative you can come up with. You create blog posts, ebooks, social posts. How hard can it be to create one slide?
No matter how interesting your trend line or the highlights are, there still have be some insights that are conveyed along with the data. Never stop with just eye candy, especially for a CEO. He doesn’t care about the how, but he certainly cares about the why.
What You Can Learn from the One-Slide Challenge
Even if you never get the chance to present to your CEO, or even prepare one slide that someone else presents to him, there are some lessons to be learned from this exercise. They are very relevant for metrics reporting, but they are also relevant in describing yourself or your business.
The metrics part is easy. With all the available options, make sure you focus on the things that matter to others. Next time you have to create a report, create an overview slide that includes the most relevant results. Think about it as the only slide anyone looks at. If you do a good job on the slide, that might be true.
Applying this to other parts of your life is harder. If you don’t normally describe what your company does, you may find yourself going on and on with irrelevant details when you do. If you worked at a fast food restaurant, how many items deep into the menu would you go in describing the food? I suspect not too many.
Many people have practiced pitches about their companies, and even themselves for networking events, but the rest of us need to be able to read a situation, evaluate how much information we need to make an impact, and determine how best to deliver it.
One day, the CEO may email you directly.