The purpose of a presentation is typically to convey information, ideas, or perspectives to an audience, and the better the presentation, the more effective it is likely to be in achieving its objectives. A great presentation is one that engages the audience, holds their attention, and effectively communicates the intended message.
In this new episode, we are joined by Sarah Kiefer, a marketing guru and currently serving as the Chief Marketing Officer at Pitch. Sarah discusses the essence of good presentation across various uses, including at the startup level and in well-established companies. She also discusses the factors contributing to a great presentation, including the quality of the content, the clarity and coherence of the delivery, the visual aids used to support the presentation, and how Pitch simplified all these factors for the users.
Sarah Kiefer is a sales and marketing specialist with more than 10 years of experience. She has previously served as the Global Director, Enterprise Marketing, Spotify Advertising at Spotify, and Director of Sales Development at Ooyala, among other roles and companies. She holds a First Class Honors Degree in French and German Literature and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
This episode is for everyone who wants to improve their presentation skills and be better at persuasion. Tune in to learn and enjoy content from the guru.
- Key Career-growth milestones
- What Makes a Great Presentation?
- Presentation Tips for Founders
- Presenting your Vision and Plan in an Interview
- Pricing and Packaging of a Product
- Data Management Tools
- Building a Sustainable Culture in a Remote Work Company
- Managing and Maintaining Company Documents
- Interesting Skills Marketers Should Learn
- Company Branding
- Balancing Between Work and Personal Life
- Visit Pitch to learn and access more amazing presentation tips and templates
- Connect with Sara Kiefer on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Connect with David Khim on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Connect with Omniscient Digital on LinkedIn or Twitter
Listen to the podcast:
[06:06] Key Career-growth milestones
“Yeah, so I think if there’s a, a red thread that runs through my career, it’s really the intersection between storytelling and business. Um, and that’s actually kind of what I’ve got, like my educational background as well. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So my undergrad degree was in French and German literature, so I spent a lot of time reading, uh, you know, Camou and Sarra and. About that in German and crazy stuff like that. And then I did an mba. So I just find that area around, you know, how do people tell stories, what are the canvases that we give them to tell stories? And then how can you turn that into a good business and help help the creator make money from that as well. So that’s been the kind of through thread. I started off in TV. I was at MTV and Discovery Channel and then kind of TV started to be a bit on the WA and i, I worked for an online video technology company out in Silicon Valley. Um, so really thinking about how media companies could get into this exciting new area of online video. Um, and then transitioned to Spotify and it was all about audio and helping advertisers to tell their story through the audio medium. And then as podcasting exploded, that was a really interesting kind of new wave of opportunity for advertisers and for storytellers. Um, and then the opportunity came up a pitch and I was immediately attracted to it because I’ve always, that is kind of the true intersection of storytelling and business cuz presentations is how we tell stories at work and how we get people’s attention and how we cut through and how we persuade people at work. And yet the tools that we have to do that are often very frustrating. You know, there’s a reason that the phrase death by PowerPoint exists and, um, I was just so excited to join a company that’s trying to do something about that and turn a process that can be joy sucking and frustrating into something that’s exciting and collaborative and a way to kind of reach your clients in a new and innovative way. So yeah, that’s why, uh, I was excited to join Pitch.”
[13:09] What Makes a Great Presentation?
A good presentation is one that achieves the objectives that you have when you create it
“<laugh> Well, I feel, I feel like there’s a lot of questions in that question, but I completely agree with you. I think that presentations are, are so important and, and then, you know, I think in the, in the question when you sent it over, you were like, my job was just to make slide decks. And I was like, yeah, your, your doc, your job probably was to make slide decks. But I would take away the word just, you know, my kids say to me something sometimes, like all you do at work, mom is just touch your buttons. Like they mean type, right? It’s like, yeah, in some ways that is what I do all day, but I, you know, I like to think it’s a little bit more important than that. And I think it’s the same with presentations. Cuz if you think about what you’re trying to do with a present presentation, you’re trying to catch someone’s attention. You’re trying to persuade someone of something, whether that’s internally or externally, um, and it’s the really the power of visual communication. So yes, there are times where it makes more sense for documentation to just be in text or there are times where you are just running analysis, for example. And it would make sense to do that in a spreadsheet or an air table or in Metaverse or whatever you use for pure analysis. But there’s something amazing about the medium of presentations where you can combine data voiceover and human charisma, visuals, text all of these things to create a document that, as you say, it can be delivered live, it can be delivered asynchronously. That’s why Pitch has the recordings feature where you can add, um, a recording of yourself presenting the slide so that people can, can see the presentation asynchronously with that human voiceover. Um, and, and it’s something you can, or it’s something you can send as a follow up. Some early stage companies even use a, a presentation as like a kind of prototype website, right? Where you’ve kind of got all of the basic information. Um, so it, it’s a, a combination of something that’s really flexible, really simple, like almost anybody can create a presentation and yet really powerful because it has all of those elements that visual communication, you can add audio, you can use add video, you can kind of, it’s this canvas that kind of anyone can, anyone can play on. Um, I think your question about what makes for a good presentation, <laugh> is probably a whole other, uh, a whole other question that we can go, that we can go down. Um, a simple answer to that question is a good presentation is one that achieves the objectives that you have when you create it mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and I think the, some of the worst presentations are the ones that are trying to do all of those different use cases that I just described in one and haven’t thought about what the specific use cases that you’re trying to achieve in that moment. So the classic one that I always say is, the deck that you present in the meeting or on the Zoom should never be the same deck that you send us follow up because what you will like, there should be an awful lot less text on the slide for the one that you present in person. Like you can almost think of the one in person as more like that Steve Jobs, he’s got that one beautiful image behind him and he is talking like hugely charismatically about his point and it’s about human connection and it’s about understanding the audience and communicating in ways that they understand. Whereas what you send as a follow up is more likely to be very detailed, contain information, um, act as a reference for the future If you’re selling, it’s almost more like a catalog that you’re sending afterwards for people to refer back to. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so that would be my number one tip with presentations is like really sit down and think and preferably write down like, what am I actually trying to achieve with this presentation? Like, how is my audience feeling? What message am I trying to get across to them? What does success look like at the end of this presentation?”
[18:03] Presentation Tips for Founders
Start by writing down the story before designing the presentation
“First tip would be probably don’t start in a deck. Um, start <laugh>, start on a whiteboard or in an Ocean Doc or in a, um, a Google Google Doc and sketch out the story that you’re trying to tell. Um, so we actually have some great resources on the pitch website that would point you towards with kind of, we have a guide about giving advice on how to put together your, your pitch deck. And the, we also have a ton of examples of great pitch decks, which can sometimes be more useful than reading. Like how to documentation is just to look at how other companies have done it and think about what you like and what you don’t like. But my number one tip would be sit down and write the story. Like write the headlines for each slide. It shouldn’t probably be more than 10 slides long. So really force yourself to get really disciplined about like what you’re trying to say and how you’re gonna break your, your story down across those 10 slides. Anything that’s too detailed can go in the appendix and then, and and, and do that before you start putting the slides together. Um, and then, then you can start bringing in people from your team. Uh, the other advice I would give to entrepreneurs is it’s not all on you. Like get that feedback, get input from other people on your team, um, putting together a great deck like that, particularly one that’s so important for your company will likely be a collaborative team effort not on you alone.”
[23:05] Presenting your Vision and Plan in an Interview
Include your personal side of life when presenting your vision and plan in an interview
“Yeah, I, your point about kind of feeling not ready for the role very much resonates with me in my mind when I heard about the job at Pitch, I was like, oh, that sounds cool. That’s the kind of thing I was thinking I would do two to five years from now mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I was like, I, I dunno if I’m ready for that yet. And then I kind of read the job description and was like, actually kind of 90% of this I do, I do fulfill the requirements. Like maybe I should actually go for this. Um, so yeah, if, if I didn’t this for anyone thinking like that, if you’re thinking like that, go for it. Like what’s the worst that can happen? You don’t, you just don’t get the job. And then, and then you’ve had the practice and actually about six months before I went for the role at Pitch, I had gone for a different role and I hadn’t got it. And that was a really good like practice run actually. Um, and so yeah, I would just encourage anybody who’s looking for their new role, like don’t, don’t be afraid to go for those practice runs cuz you learn every time you go through a process like that. Um, but yeah, I think the things that, that I got across in that deck was number one that I had a really clear plan for like what I was gonna do in my first 90 days. Like almost mapped out like what I was gonna do week by week. And I think that that gives the team that you’re presenting to a lot of, um, reassurance, particularly in a startup environment where everyone, everything’s a little bit crazy and manic most of the time. Um, and yeah, that just, that, that to have that focus and that clarity, I think is reassuring. Um, the other thing was I didn’t just talk about like what I was gonna do, I also talked about why and like why it’s important to me covered some of the topics that we talked about today, like why I’m interested in presentations, why it’s something that I’m passionate about, why I can see how this is really important to businesses, um, and kind of a, a vision for like what that could become a pitch. Um, so although after that, um, some, and in somebody else’s interview they actually even include included like more personal details. And I thought that was wonderful. And I was like, why did that not occur to me to like, put a picture of my husband and kids and like talk about my hobbies and things like that in the presentation. And I think maybe that is part of that kind of female insecurity. I was like, no, I’m gonna, I’m gonna be super professional and just talk about work and things like that. Whereas actually when he presented those things, I got such a better idea of who he was as a person and it made his presentation more effective, like that vulnerability and kind of sharing more about himself.”
[27:33] Pricing and Packaging of a Product
Set prices that will attract as many potential clients as possible
“So specifically on the pricing and packaging, I think that really good plg, so let’s take a step back. What, what’s a good candidate for a PLG motion? I would say it’s something that’s inherently viral, right? Helps because then you’re gonna have like a much lower pack cost of acquisition. Um, I think it’s something that’s like easy to see the value of it quite quickly, ideally, so you can get to that kind of aha moment as soon as possible. Um, and is e it is like easy to kind of onboard and start using quickly yourself, um, and has ideally quite a large addressable market, right? Because you kind of need that in order to grow to, to a point to build a big enough business like when you’re giving away, giving it away for free to quite a lot of people. Um, and so when we were thinking that through, we are looking at companies like Notion who also have extremely generous, um, and kind of on timebound, uh, f like free starter, um mm-hmm <affirmative> offers. Um, and really for us it’s, we wanna grow the number of people using Pitch, you know, as much as we possibly can, and then only make the paid tier about people who are kind of unlocking that like additional business value. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So similar to Notion, we can see people, and I would encourage anyone listening to this, like if you’re doing a presentation, maybe if you’re next job into you or you know, people have presentation parties, like there are lots of other uses. Do people do that <laugh> Yeah. Oh, it’s huge on TikTok. Go check out the hashtag ation party. Um, okay. On, on TikTok is amazing. Um, and you know, so, so go and use pitch for that. And then eventually we think that you will undoubtedly start, want to start using Pitch in a work environment where you’re gonna have to, you know, kind of break through this bias towards these tools that people have been using for ages and ages. And we kind of have to give people that opportunity, um, by, by kind of helping them to see, see how much Better Pitch is for free. So that’s, that’s how we think about it. We want as many people to use it as possible. Um, and then when they start seeing the, the business value, that’s one where we start thinking about monetization. Um, it’s interesting what you were saying about like calling it Starter rather than free.”
[37:18] Data Management Tools
Use several tools to get better site analytics and improve performance
“Oh goodness. Where do I even start? It’s probably the thing that I spend the most time, like thinking about <laugh>, um, uh, after my, like how to support my team is like, how do we, like what analytics do we need? And like, where is the information? How can I access it? And, and how is it all connected together? So, um, we on, on the kind of marketing acquisitions side, we do look at Google a Google Analytics a lot, um, and just look at like how our website’s performing. But it was clear that was never gonna be enough. Um mm-hmm. <affirmative> and when I arrived, that was really the priority is like, how do we get that through Funnel View? So we started off and we’re still using snowplow, we’re looking at like other solutions. Um, and then we pull that into Meta base and we have, um, a lot of really great dashboards that analytics team has built where I can look at like cohort views by channel views, um, you know, average workspace size out after certain amount of time for different channels and different campaigns. Actually, we’re kind of working right now, our focus is like we were looking last year by channel and kind of getting a sense of like what, what our top performing channels were so we could allocate resources around channels. And then this year, year our focus is really going like one level deeper and looking at campaigns. So like what are the specific ah, keywords for paid search that deliver a high percentage of target audience signups”
[42:27] Building a Sustainable Culture in a Remote Work Company
Remote work culture allows companies to hire the best talents regardless of their locations in the world.
“Yeah, that’s been so interesting for me coming from, I mean what most of us went through in the pandemic was we went from a hundred percent in person to a hundred percent remote like overnight. And we had these existing cultures and these existing ways of doing things and we were like desperately trying to shoehorn those existing behaviors and that existing culture into this entirely new way of doing things. Unsurprisingly, that wasn’t always hugely successful and it was frustrating cuz we were always thinking about what we had lost in terms of our day-to-day experience, right? Oh Yeah. Whereas because Pitch has been always been remote and has been built from the ground up, the company’s been really intentional about what rituals and kind of cultural norms we have with working remotely. And I think is also culturally more focused on, well what are we gaining from remote work? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> not what are we losing? So, okay, maybe we’re not all having a beer together on a Friday afternoon, but everyone at Pitch can go and pick up their kids from kindergarten every day if they want to, right? Yeah. And I think if you kind of position it like that and the even bigger for me is we have access to talent regardless of location. So when I’m hiring for a role, I can hire the best person for that. Like within some legal limitations in certain countries and whatever I can, I can really take my pick. I don’t have to hire someone just in London or just in Berlin or whatever it might be. And for me that’s really been like personally transformational because we made the decision as a family to relocate from London to Hanover in Germany when my husband was offered his kind of dream job, um mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And there’s like a couple where both of us are very passionate about our careers. I had kind of always lived in fear of that moment where we were gonna have to prioritize one person’s job over the other person’s. And because of now the flexibility with remote work, we didn’t have to do that. I get to do my dream job and he gets to do his dream job without being limited by that. Um, and so yeah, that’s, that’s been huge for me. And I can talk more about kind of what we do internally to make remote work work <laugh>, because you do have to be intent about it.”
[47:46] Managing and Maintaining Company Documents
Be intentional and picky on the tools you use to maintain company documents and information
“We have an amazing COO also who’s been at Pitch for a while and a lot of this stuff, if you set it up right the first time and then if you maybe clean it up once a year, it kind of runs itself. So I don’t think you need a dedicated person necessarily just to run Notion, but we do think really intentionally about stuff like that. I think also about tools, um, when you’re working remote, you know how in an office everyone’s really obsessed with like, what coffee machine are we gonna have? Or like, what color are they gonna paint this room? And and sometimes you think to yourself like, why are people so interested in this thing? But it’s important cuz that’s part of the environment image you’re working. When you work remotely, those things are your IT setup, like your tech setup and the tools that you use to do your job. So we’re super, super picky and thoughtful about what tools we give people to use.”
[52:41] Interesting Skills Marketers Should Learn
Marketing analytics and attribution are core skills every marketer should master
“Yeah, I think in the current economic environment you need to have a good understanding of marketing analytics and attribution. Um, you know, we’re, we’re definitely not in the era of kind of going to your boss and saying, Hey, I wanna run this campaign cause it’s just gonna be super cool. And they’re gonna say, yeah, sure, <laugh>. Like, um, so you need to, I think understanding how to quantify impact, understanding how to write OKRs, um, you know, having e even if like the problem with marketing attribution is most of the time it’s really, really difficult and you, you, you never end up with an answer. You just end up with kind of better questions at the end of it. Yeah. But just being able to engage with that and kind of show thoughtfulness around that and an understanding of how marketing fits in with the overall business is really important. And then I think really deep cust like empathy for your customers about how your customers are experiencing value, um, is really important. So how, how is your product or service saving them money? How is your product or service making them money? Like, just very basic. Like what are the line, how are you hitting their, their bottom line in like, in a good way. Um, because similarly, like we are not in the days right now where you can kind of say, oh my product’s just cool <laugh>. Like no. Um, that’s, that’s probably not a good enough reason for somebody to be paying for something these days. Like you have to prove the value.”
[56:56] Company Branding
Factor long-term benefits as opposed to short-term when building a company brand
“Yeah. This has been an interesting ongoing, I’m putting you in a hot seat. That I have with our CFO. Um, the first thing I would say for any, just practically for anyone coming into a new like marketing leadership role is there may be a phase where you have to prove that you can deliver the short-term value before you get you, you, you are in a position where you can argue for like, no, I really need to do this like, long-term brand thing. Like yeah, you might have to do six months or of a year, year of proving, oh I can, I can reduce our cost per target sign up by 50% and then suddenly you’ll probably find that your CFO is quite willing to talk to you about other things. Um, I don’t actually model it out. I think if you go into those conversations, or maybe you’re having it with the board or the CEO, I don’t wanna be rude about CFOs, <laugh>, it could be with anyone you’re having this conversation, if you just go in and you say, oh, we should do this cuz it’s just really good for our brand. Like that’s not a very strong argument. If you go in there and you’ve actually modeled out the business case and you’re like, we can increase our direct brand word of mouth traffic by this much over this period of time. If we invest this much in, in this kind of brand awareness channel over this period of time, or here’s my like roadmap for, we’re gonna test podcast advertising, we’re gonna test newsletter sponsorships purely from an awareness, purely on a basis of like cost per quality impression. But then here’s how that’s gonna have an impact on all of these line items that feed into our a r r model or our overall business model. And I would say try to widen the conversation when you’re having that conversation beyond just a year. Most companies, particularly most startups are only planning like for the next year in detail. But with brand, it’s a really long term thing, right? Like somebody might see five of your brand impressions and not sign up for your product for another nine months, which is gonna push you out of this calendar year or whatever the latest phase you’re, you’re planning for. And I know for some startups, like, you know, if you’re, if you’re running out of runway in like six months time, that might, that’s gonna be a really difficult conversation, right? I don’t, don’t wanna no bones about that. Um, but like try, if you’ve got kind of, if you’re, if if you’re doing business planning for three years, like factor that in and then you can do calculations about how much more efficient that’s gonna make your cost of acquisition versus other, other channels. Like there is also a ton of research that kind of awareness spending is more efficient, uh, in the right combination with perfor versus pure performance spending.”
[01:04:49] Balancing Between Work and Personal Life
Balancing between work and personal life requires supports from the people around you
“Uh, knock lights really, really hard. <laugh>, like really hard. Um, I dunno, I think the, the way you make it work is by being really picky about the person you choose to do it with is, I mean, I think, um, uh, Shel Sandberg said this like, the most important business decision you’ll ever make in your career is who you marry. Um mm-hmm. And I think that that is a hundred percent true. Like, uh, my husband, you are him. The best thing about him or like the thing that I’ve kind of loved from the beginning is that he, his kind of baseline assumption is that I’m like smarter than him and my career is just as important as his <laugh> and my baseline assumption is that he’s smarter than me. And so we just have this kind of, um, yeah, recipro, I love that respect for each other and um, support for each other. I think we also understand that we’re not everything. We don’t, we don’t try to get everything from, from each other. So we also have friends that are very important to us. We have kind of other people and our like, so we’re not just just supporting each other. We have like wider support system. Um, I think the other thing you have to get comfortable with is, um, involving other people in, in kind of supporting and making it happen. So we’ve had like wonderful childcare, wonderful nannies over the years who’ve become like part of our family. And um, yeah, I remember at business school a woman came back, a woman who came back, um, to talk to us who’d had a successful career and she said like, like it’s impossible to overpay for childcare. Basically. Like, you know, don’t, don’t regret, don’t ever think, oh, this isn’t, because this is so expensive. Like, don’t start from the position of like, how much is this gonna cost cuz you know, your kid who looks after your kids, like that’s, that’s a really important thing to in mm-hmm. <affirmative> to invest in. Uh, and definitely there’ve been times where that’s probably meant that like me going to work or both of us working is like not necessarily financially beneficial sometimes. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, like you’re not really breaking e breaking even by the time you take childcare costs into consideration. Um, and yeah, you have to kind of think for the long term and realize that you’re not just working for the money. Like it, it’s something that’s important to you. So it forces you to think about like what’s really important in your career.”