“To be a creative success one has to have exceptionally good presentation skills”, I heard somewhere in my mid-life. And that thought scared me a bit. I am not exactly mute when it comes to speaking, but I am not a silver tongued, super-finished, suave speaker either. Writing by nature is an introverted activity while presentation skill is an extroverted quality. So, one who has mostly taken an inward journey can be fairly good travelling outwards too but can’t be an expert at going in both the directions.

This brings me to the moot point – completely from the perspective of a client and not an agency. Should a client be sold to an idea or the presentation skills of a presenter?

The dancing eyes, the theatrical expressions of the hand, changing, husky inflexions of speech of the presenter, the smart and sometimes sexy outfits, add many distracting layers to the idea sitting on Microsoft ppt. All these add a lot of fluff to a core idea. It makes it very, very attractive, yes from an agency perspective. And that is the point. Because will the end consumer that the presentation ultimately targets, see all that? No. It would go threadbare. Bones and skeleton. No extra paddings. It will have to stand on its own, move and work for the client. It won’t be tugged by the strings of a skillful presenter.

And that is the reason why many campaigns have been sold to unsuspecting clients, like lush green grass has been sold to a lion or a tooth brush has been sold to a python if we go by marketing clichés.

It may seem a lame excuse, a defence from a half good speaker like me and I wholly agree with you, if you do not wish to see the point I am trying to make. Talent is scarce and presenters may be more freely available, I don’t know, so what other thing can you do? Besides not every idea can be an award winning one? How do you rise from the sea of mediocrity that most clients throw you into and try to drown you at that? How do 8 agencies pitching for a small account, with a brief given 2 days earlier hope to outsmart each other if they all have similar ideas to present. A presenter is a pitch winner, a life saver. But is it for the client?

For me, every time a brief comes, I feel the same number of butterflies starting to flutter in my stomach as it happened in the beginning of my career. Not one less. Perhaps it is because creativity as a process starts from the stomach region! But can that be said of a presenter? Do they get immune after sometime and all of it comes at the drop of a hat? I would like to know.

I would be much happier if an idea I conceive can sell on its own and did not need the crutches of presentation skills. It would absolve my existence. But perhaps there is no way truth can be isolated from fiction. They go hand in hand in our business.

Still I keep wondering about an ideal world where presentations are read through instead of being presented and decided on the merit of the ideas. Quite a few agencies are practicing this method of evaluation. They shortlist the best, and only then engage them in discussions. I think they are the smartest ones.

Look forward to your views because every chair has four legs to it!

By - Ravi Sharma (Associate Creative Director)

An engineer from a top notch engineering college to a job in India’s leading defence aircraft manager (HAL) to his present universe!

Ravi, has co-authored a novel “The Quest of The Sparrows” along with his son, published by Rupa Publications.