PPT Wins Poll on Analysts’ Preferred Soft Copy Briefing Formats

Preliminary votes and comments are in – nearly two-thirds of our 46 respondents as of April 10 prefer Powerpoint format to PDFs, and a small minority is using annotatable PDF format, though several didn’t even know it exists. (Adobe, are you listening? Some work to do here.) Key themes in comments from AR and analysts:

  • Some analysts like to edit PPTs; when they can’t get them, some resort to other methods. Forrester’s Oliver Young told us, “I take screen shots of almost every Webex or Go-To-Meeting session I end up in since so many vendors never bother to send along the slides.” We heard the latter complaint several times; Guy Creese of Burton Group has the numbers: “Half the time (I keep stats on this, since I find it so aggravating), I’m not sent the Powerpoint.”
  • PDF had its champions too. HP’s Gerry Van Zandt noted its broad platform support and backward compatibility; “for those who DO use Office, you have the issue of the older Office 2003 .ppt/.xls/.doc and the Office 2007 .pptx/.xlsx/.docx files. If you don’t have the translators installed, it’s a pain.”
  • Send in advance; preparation makes the meeting more effective. Rick Brusuelas: “allows analysts to prepare better (isn’t the point to get useful feedback?).” It also helps AR do their job better; Duncan Chapple of Lighthouse AR noted, “if the analyst gets the slides, then so does the AR manager, and that helps spokespeople to be more coherent over time.” Jocelyn Eisenberg likes the active role it facilitates for her: “I insist presentation decks be provided to me in PPT format so I can edit them, if necessary, before sending them on to the analysts.”
  • Powerpoint’s file size can be an issue. Sandy Berman says IBM  “sometimes sends PDFs if the PPT file is too big for the firm’s firewall or gateway or whatever it is that returns huge files to me as undeliverable.” Of course, there may be a hint in there about the contents of the file, too…

Finally, the file is not the point; communication is. Curt Monash, for one, doesn’t want slides at all, and rarely looks at them a second time. Last word to Henry Harteveldt of Forrester: “What I CANNOT stand is the briefing organization taking me through slide by deathly slide. I learned to read at a very young age.”

The survey will run through April 20 and then I’ll do a wrapup.

About Merv Adrian
Gartner Research VP, technology analyst and consultant, 30 years of industry experience, covering software mostly, hardware sometimes.

6 Responses to PPT Wins Poll on Analysts’ Preferred Soft Copy Briefing Formats

  1. Mike Thoma says:

    For the relationship to be successful, I’ve found that I have to do what each analyst wants. Some like to have a copy of the content in advance, and then just chat. Some like to have a group that sit there like birds on a wire and force you to go through every damn slide. Some like the PPT files. Some (especially in Europe) need the skinnier PPT file.) The best thing to do IF you want to have a relationship with an analyst (not just wham bam relations as part of the launch) is to ASK what he or she wants and do it that way. Curt Monash =/= Merv Adrian. Why not do both?

  2. Merv Adrian says:

    Great comment, Mike. If the “rules” are to be sequentially applied, the first should always be: know who you’re talking to and why, and act accordingly!

  3. Beth (AR) says:

    I agree with you Merv. It really depends on the purpose of the meeting with the analyst. If we are introducing a new tech/product/concept, I send ppt slides in advance. And, I hope that the analyst is prepared and took a look.

    If it is a briefing to get input on messaging, I rarely send them in advance. Sometimes, you want a clean response to something without preconceptions of a vendor, product and/or market. But, I explain that up front so that we can set expectations and objectives for both sides – AR and analysts.

  4. Jan Shauer says:

    Hey Merv–I get quite a bit of pressure to PDF our decks, but I don’t do it very often unless there’s clearly sensitive material involved. I understand it’s easier for you to take notes on the slides. I think you’re idea of the “pdf-lite” is a good one, though I’m not sure that AR will embrace the concept. I don’t think most of AR even does regular PDFs at this point.

  5. Don says:

    PDF only requires a free reader; while PPT can only be invoked by having a fee-based Microsoft Office product. If supposedly objective parties want to maintain objectivity then use a pdf or if analsts need an editable version then one of the many free editors that conform to the ODF industry standard protocol.

  6. Merv Adrian says:

    Don, do you have a suggestion about editing PDFs? BTW, I’m not sure what this has to do with objectivity.

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