3 Lessons learned about the high cost of failed presentations

It was about 35 years ago. I was sitting in a boardroom with 30 other lawyers at my law firm as the outside presenter droned on and on. I looked around the room and no one was paying any attention to the presenter. Instead of listening myself, I started calculating how much this failed presentation was costing the organization I worked for. It seemed that one presentation of just one hour was costing my organization almost $10,000. If that was close to the right amount for a single presentation, just think how much bad presentations were costing my organization over a year.

So, what did I learn? Here are three things that come to mind:

1. My organization was paying us to not learn anything
The first cost for the organization was what they were paying all of us to sit in the room. I estimated the average salary of those in the room was around $100,000 per year. If the presentation had been good, it would have been well worth it. Because the presenter was so boring, we didn’t learn anything. I noticed some of my colleagues nodding off.

2. My organization was losing the opportunity to charge clients for the time we were spending in that failed presentation
The second cost for the organization was what they could otherwise have been billing for our time. For a law firm like ours that charged per billable hour, by having us attend the presentation, we were not doing client work that we could have billed clients for. I estimated the average charge out rate per billable hour was around $200 per hour. If we’d learned something that was critical for our legal practice, again it would have been well worth it. We didn’t! It wasn’t!

3. If this had been an internal presentation, my organization would have been losing even more
If this had been an internal presentation, the firm would have been out even more. There would have been the salary paid and the opportunity cost for all the time the presenter spent working on the presentation, preparing slides, etc. as well as the time actually presenting. Again, if the presentation was good, this is definitely time well spent.

How much are bad presentations costing your firm?

Are presentations in your firm engaging and memorable, as well as informative? Are your employees learning something that they will remember and apply? If alot of the presentations your staff attend fail, remember the salary cost of the audience, the opportunity cost of the audience, and the additional costs for any internal presenters.

To find out how memorable and engaging your firm’s presentations are, book a free, no-obligation, 45-minute Organizational Discovery Call here.