The Hidden Cost Of Bad Presentations — How To Avoid Losing Business

by Andrea Pacini

A presentation is your opportunity to make a great first impression. It’s a bit like a first date — only the stakes are financial rather than romantic.

However, too many business leaders fail to consider the cost of delivering a bad presentation.

Many companies fall into the trap of making an invisible first impression. When presenting an idea for the first time — be it a product, a service or a project — the impression they make is invisible. It’s not that they make a bad first impression — though sometimes that happens too — but it’s not a good first impression either. It’s invisible.

When PowerPoint first started to appear in business meetings in the 1990s, little thought went into effective presenting. Everybody was following the same approach with slides packed with too much text, bullet points and details. They were producing cluttered and busy slides. This led to the dreaded ‘Death by PowerPoint’ with which we are all familiar.

Today, 40 years after we invented PowerPoint, we should know better. There is no reason to deliver a bad presentation when we know what works and what doesn’t.

Companies that are still putting together boring presentations are falling behind. As they say, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

When a crucial opportunity to make a great first impression doesn’t hit the mark and is entirely unmemorable, what’s the hidden cost?

The cost is very real and can be quantified. But what exactly is the hidden cost of a bad presentation?

What’s The Real Cost of a Bad Presentation?

So how do you calculate the true cost of a bad presentation? You could analyse how many presentations your company gave in a year, how much time you spent on them and how many of them weren’t effective.

Then you could take the average salary of someone in your organisation who had worked on the presentations — and work out the hours ‘wasted’.

But that would be a very complicated approach. There is a much simpler way. All you need to do is ask yourself two simple questions.

  1. Q: What’s the value of a great presentation?

    A: The amount of the deal you are trying to win. Or the value of the opportunity you are trying to grab.

  2. Q: What’s the cost of a bad presentation?

    A: The same. The cost of an ineffective presentation is the amount of the deal you didn’t win. It’s the value of the missed opportunity.

I recently worked with a marketing and advertising agency. The MD and Head of Growth were keen for the agency to become more proactive in seeking new business. But they were being held back by their presentations.

During a typical pitch the MD and senior leaders would focus on the commercials, the strategy and the top level overview.

But they would rely on a team of analysts to go into more depth. Unfortunately, those analysts were too dry and too technical in their delivery, which led to the agency losing out on opportunities.

In their case, a typical client brings in £5k/month. They were aiming to convert three new clients a month. Not being able to pitch and present effectively, and losing that business, could have lost them potential income of around £180k per year.

The cost to business owners and entrepreneurs of ineffective presentations is therefore easy to calculate.

Even for those business leaders who don’t run their own businesses there is a cost and a negative impact from poor presentations.

Business leaders are the face of a company. Bad presentations can affect the image of the company and damage their personal credibility too. Not being able to present well can damage people’s reputation and career progression.

Good Presentations Reduce Costs

With product development it tends to be the case that higher quality products cost more to build. But here’s some good news for you. With presentations it’s the opposite.

The higher the quality of your presentations, the lower the costs to your organisation because you are more likely to win business. The lower the quality of your presentations, the higher the costs because you will miss out on more business opportunities.

Hidden Cost

Why You Should Make Your Presentations A Priority

One practical thing you can do to avoid the cost of bad presentations: stop treating presentations as secondary.

So many business owners and leaders regard presentations as something which is nice to have. For them it’s not a priority. Instead, they devote their time and resources into product development and other business matters.

I get it. Your product or service is the thing you see and work on everyday. The way you communicate your offering can be seen as less tangible.

Of course your product or service is important. It forms the core of your business and without it your business wouldn’t exist.

Let me draw a parallel for you. When it comes to publishing content (like this blog), experts recommend that you don’t just focus on the actual writing. It’s also vital to think about how to distribute it so as many people as possible will see it.

You can write the best article in the world, but without an effective platform or distribution strategy, no-one will read it. And if no-one reads it the whole exercise was pointless.

The same applies to your business.

You can have the greatest idea, product, or service in the world, but if you can’t communicate it, it doesn’t matter. So, you should devote as much time (if not more) on preparing to present your ideas effectively as you spend working on the products themselves.

Remember, it’s the quality of your presentation which will win over an audience, not the ideas themselves.

In Summary

When an audience sits through a bad presentation their mind will feel confused. And what does a confused mind do? Nothing. Your audience won’t take action as a result of a bad presentation.

If you want to make more sales and win more deals you need to convince your prospects to buy from you.

If you want to generate interest in your business from a webinar, you need to create and deliver a powerful presentation that your audience will act upon.

If you want to grow your business, you need to persuade and influence your audience that your product or service is right for them.

Spending time on a great presentation can reduce costs. It means you are less likely to lose out on new business.

You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t communicate it effectively, it doesn’t matter.


If you enjoyed this article, I would love to hear your feedback. Please comment, get in touch or share the article with any colleagues or friends who might benefit from the ideas.

If you want to become a more confident presenter, take the Confident Presenter Scorecard. Answer simple Yes/No questions, get an instant score plus suggestions for improvement. It takes less than 3 minutes. Once you complete the scorecard, you’ll receive a free pdf copy of my best-selling book Confident Presenter.