I've posted repeatedly on how to make presentations more effective, but it occurred to me today that there's a simple way to make any presentation better: replace these all-too-common, boring slides with something that's actually meaningful to the audience.

1. "Corporate Background"

How many millions of presentations begin a history of the presenter's company? What are these presenters thinking??!

While corporate background slides are supposed to create credibility, they're inevitably boring and usually irrelevant.

Best case, such slides force the audience to map your history into their current needs, a mental effort that they're probably not going to make.

The time to introduce your background and experience is after you've captured the audience's interest, not when they have no reason whatsoever to care.

Fix: Use the phrase "Proof Points" and introduce your experience as evidence that you can deliver as promised.

2. "Features and Functions"

In the entire history of business, no customer whatsoever has ever been the slightest bit interested in a product feature or function.

While customers are sometimes willing to translate your features and functions into something that's meaningful to them, it's stupid to force them to do so.

For example, nobody who buys a printer cares whether it does double-sided copying. What they DO care about is saving money or making documents more convenient to read.

The more complex your product, the more work it's going to be for customers to figure out why they should care.

Fix: Use the phrase "Meaningful Benefits" and then show how the features and functions create those benefits.

3. "Case Study"

This phrase crept into presentations via MBA programs, which depend heavily on "case studies" to illustrate abstract business concepts.

The phrase, however, simply drips boredom.

First, characterizing your current or former customer as a "case" makes you sound as if you're trying to be a junior scientist or something.

Second, the word "study" implies that it's going to take effort to understand what you're talking about. Did you like studying, when you were in school?

Finally, the phrase implies a body of information to be understood and absorbed rather than a meaningful story that teaches something valuable.

Fix: Use the phrase "Success Story" and then tell how you helped the customer become successful.