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Don’t repurpose decks. It could cost you Stephen Curry.

Don’t repurpose decks. It could cost you Stephen Curry.

When presentations don’t work – the client takes its business elsewhere, the board vetoes a program, or potential investors decline –  it’s often a result of having skipped some basics. For Portico readers and alumni, we’ve reviewed the importance of knowing your audience and refraining from creating a presentation with old slides to see what you can “repurpose.”

As the NBA Finals heat up, I’m reminded of an infamous pitch from Nike, a company otherwise legendary in its ability to connect with consumers. The Bleacher Report covered their pitch to Stephen Curry in 2013, just after his first full season as a starter.

It should have been easy. Steph grew up wearing Nike shoes; his godfather works for Nike. He wore Nike shoes in his breakout game, the day he scored 54 points in Madison Square Garden.

Nike must have thought it would be easy too. According to Curry’s father, they mispronounced Stephen’s name and left Kevin Durant’s name on a slide that had clearly been recycled and re-purposed. Curry ended up signing with Under Armour.

That deck sent a blatant message: We didn’t prepare for this. We don’t really care. Who are you, again?

Now, one could argue that a more robust proofreading effort or rehearsal session would have caught these errors. And Portico fans know the importance of practice: strive for 5 times out loud.

Yet it seems clear that Nike was just going through the motions of putting a deck together. (How many of us have been guilty of this?) They hadn’t thought in great depth about the star athlete they were attempting to woo. Had a discussion about Curry actually taken place, I’m confident that at least one colleague could have pointed out a) how to pronounce his name and b) what he looked like.

We can avoid these presentation fails in our own career by spending time thinking about our audience: what do they want from us and what do we want from them? Most of us want to be understood and heard, and the sports behemoth failed to do either of these by tripping up on some basics.

So, never forget: Practice five times, out loud. And think twice before you re-purpose that deck.
March 28, 2016 in Delivery