vSente is a marketing consultancy. We help challenger enterprises wage and win battles for market shares.

Disciplines - Advertising | Marketing | Sales
Competency - Challenge | Defend
Deliverable - Profitable Market Share
Audience - CEO's | Marketing | Sales
Scale - Small | Medium-sized Enterprise
Services - Campaigns | Workshops
Location - San Francisco | London


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Highlighting the Struggle of Style Over Substance In Marketing Communications

I am officially on the fence with Pecha Kucha. On the one hand the creative/competitive side of me sees this as something fun and potentially effective, while the analytical/objective side of me envisions armies of marketing managers wasting hours of time finding the right photos and words while generating an effort high in style but low in substance.

Wired describes Pecha Kucha as a simple set of rules applied to presentations: exactly 20 slides displayed for 20 seconds each. That's it. Say what you need to say in six minutes and 40 seconds of exquisitely matched words and images and then sit the hell down. The result, in the hands of masters of the form, combines business meeting and poetry slam to transform corporate clich into surprisingly compelling beat-the-clock performance art.

Here's an ugly truth. When it comes to business meetings and presentations they're boring. The information that needs to be imparted is both complex and dry as a bone, and the presenters of this information tend not to be natural entertainers. So it takes somebody with a modicum of self-discipline and motivation to sit through and assimilate the information presented.

Assimilating business information is no different than memorizing multiplication tables, reading Crime and Punishment, running 21 suicides, or going on a 20 mile march in the rain in full battle gear. It's something you gotta get through in order to get to the good stuff. A whole industry has sprung up over the past several years dedicated to trying to make this task (more) fun for the participants and entertainers and artists out of the presenters. Which has triggered a conflict of style over substance.

My preference has always been to keep presentations real and simple. By simple I don't mean dumbed down, I mean helvetica type, black and white slides, just the facts please. If you're on my team and I find you agonizing over photos, clip art, colors or typefaces for your presentation I will bench you in favor of somebody who can deal with the substance without sugarcoating. There is a time and place for creativity, entertainment and fun in marketing communications. But anytime I see style winning out over substance I'll rule in favor of substance.

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