There’s something reassuring about a CEO’s PowerPoint presentation. Dispiriting, but reassuring. With a few notable exceptions their presentations follow a certain formula and include certain material.
And a presentation by Alan Armstrong who’s the CEO at Williams goes some way to prove the point. He was presenting at the Howard Weil 40th Annual Energy Conference in New Orleans–an industry group for just about anyone who’s anyone in the oil business.
His presentation began somewhat inauspiciously with two pages of forward looking statements. It’s a depressing way to begin a presentation. I’m sure that investor relations managers and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can sort that out. It can’t be that hard.
His presentation proceeded with 13 formulaic PowerPoint slides. Formulaic? Yes, they included just about every slide design view that PowerPoint has. His audience was treated to maps, bullet points, combined images and bullet points, pie charts, bar charts and line graphs. Even the colour scheme seemed to come straight out of the PowerPoint top drawer.
Now there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with PowerPoint. Its problems arise from either a lack of imagination or a presenter trying to put too much on one slide or too much into a slide deck.
There were no surprises. Much of the content is already known–Mr. Armstrong used a similar slide deck at the Credit Suisse Energy Summit in February.
In terms of length, Mr. Armstrong’s presentation was mercifully short. There were 16 slides before he reached the appendix section. And then there were 40 Appendix slides–ready for questions and other eventualities. A short presentation, but each slide certainly had its fill of content.
The net result? An energy presentation that drains energy from its audience. You can break the formula when you align your presenting imagination with the story you want to tell. That’s something that CEOs are more than capable of.