A Customer Advisory Board Meeting with No PowerPoint? Here’s What to do Instead


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While PowerPoint is an excellent business tool to communicate ideas, its pervasive, constant use has weakened the impact it once had. While professionals may feel naked in front of an audience without it, spectators often lose interest quickly – if not outright groan upon seeing a long list of slides in front of them. Some executives, including Jeff Bezos himself, have even banned the use of PowerPoint presentations in meetings!

Your customer advisory board (CAB) members are also likely burned out from PowerPoint slides, and will applaud your attempt to minimize – if not outright eliminate – your use of slides at your next meeting. In their place, consider implementing these elements to keep your members at maximum engagement:

1. Environmental scan: Each CAB meeting should start with the introduction of everyone in the room, and, for your customers, an overview of their business and current corporate situation. What are their top priorities? Biggest challenges? Largest investments? This is, of course, verbalized by each CAB member – no need to prepare any PowerPoint slides.

2. Review reports (or other items): Another great exercise to conduct with your CAB members that requires no PowerPoint slides is to get their feedback or reactions to some sort of a report or interesting document. It could be an industry analyst report, a whitepaper that your company is about to publish and promote, or a thought-provoking blog post on upcoming trends in your industry. Best to send these in advance of the meeting to allow your members to read them and gather their thoughts to share with everyone. For more immediate, easier-to-digest items, such as your upcoming advertising campaign, you might simply hand these out to your CAB members to get their instant reactions.

3. Breakout exercises: The best part of any CAB meeting is the interaction between CAB members – sharing and learning solutions or best practices from each other. The best medium to generate these are in breakout sessions in which your CAB members are split into smaller groups with clear instructions and desired outcomes. Such breakouts can stay in the same room or use others that may be available. They can list or draw their suggestions or desired priorities, and then share them with the rest of the attendees. Note that properly executed breakout sessions require an investment of time and preparation to pull them off successfully.

4. Non-electronic materials: Instead of PowerPoint slides, your facilitator can leverage whiteboards or flip charts to capture key points made throughout the meeting. In fact, illustrators can take this concept a step further by drawing out member challenges and solutions that can be quite visually stimulating. Throughout the meeting and during the breakouts, use sticky notes, voting dots, or Monopoly money to have members vote on their top priorities or desired product features – or use a sports bracket to select the winning feature. The point here is to leverage old-school, non-electronic materials to create some fun and learn powerful insights – no PowerPoint needed.

5. Walking tours: Another great way to get CAB members out of their chairs and moving is to give them a walking tour of your facility or in-person demonstration of your product or service. Show them how your product is made, or witness it in action. Solving a shared industry challenge is the best way – and more powerful than PowerPoint – to engage members. For example, one CAB walking tour I attended for a food company showcased the creation, testing and preparation process, and we each got to sample the cuisine. It was quite impressive and the CAB members loved it.

Customer advisory boards are a great, and all-too-rare opportunity to engage with your best customers, learn how to better serve their needs, and impress them with your company’s ability to understand their challenges and come to their rescue. Getting members moving and active will get everyone’s creative juices flowing – and spare everyone from hours of boring PowerPoint presentations.

Rob Jensen
Rob Jensen has spent over 20 years in marketing, communications and business development leadership positions with leading enterprise business-to-business (B2B) software and technology companies. Throughout his career, Rob has successfully overseen groups that generated global awareness, increased lead generation and enabled sales teams for EMC/Captiva, Kofax, Anacomp, TRW, HNC Software and AudaExplore. In addition, Rob has specialized in initiating, managing and facilitating customer and partner advisory board programs for several of these companies in the U.S. and abroad.


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