Presentation Management 12: Interactive Presentations

Presentation Management 12: Interactive Presentations

Created: Wednesday, February 12, 2020, posted by at 9:30 am

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Original content by AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra
Enhanced by Geetesh Bajaj

In the last part of this Presentation Management series of posts, we looked at how presentation management transforms content: employees create new content from existing content, and both internal and external usage of content gets easier. We will move ahead in this post and look at interactive presentations.

Let’s explore one facet of the pharmaceutical industry. The cost of creating a successful new drug is anywhere from $650 million to $2 billion. The price tag is so high because the hit rate is so low: 90 percent of drugs developed don’t make it to market. Few drugs make it through all three phases of clinical trials, and when they do, they still need to get FDA approval.

Advisory Committee

Advisory Committee

Most drugs are developed after a huge financial investment, years of clinical testing and trials, and a ton of time invested by a team of passionate medical professionals, scientists and even patients with a genuine interest in curing a disease. And after that arduous process, the approval decision hinges on one presentation to an FDA Advisory Committee.

An Advisory Committee, or AdComm, is a panel of experts with special knowledge of the disease the drug is targeted to treat. The AdComm is usually made up of doctors, scientists, patients and industry and consumer representatives. The stakes are high, so naturally, the panel needs the right information about the drug and its trial results to make good decisions. It’s up to the presenter — the drugmaker — to give the panel that information during the AdComm review.

We worked with a consultancy called Innovative Science Solutions (ISS) that helps drug and medical device companies get AdComm recommendations for FDA approval. ISS relies on interactive presentations during meetings to do so. All the trial results are compiled into a slide library of more than 1,000 slides. The content tells the entire story of the drug, from its creation in the lab, to its compound structure, its chemical reaction in the human body, as well as the methodology, preparation, execution and results of each clinical trial. The slides include testimonials from patients who participated in the trials. The slide library is like a comprehensive encyclopedic reference for that one drug.

ISS prepares the presentation. It chooses 100 to 200 slides from the library that the Chief Development Officer (CDO) for the drug company will then present to the Advisory Committee.

The AdComm format in and of itself is intense. It is several days with everyone in a hotel conference room or some other neutral location. The CDO presents a formal, linear presentation of results and rationale for approval. That presentation is then followed by several days of questions and answers. Panel members ask about any aspect of the drug, and the CDO is expected to answer in detail. And he can, because he has an interactive slide library at his fingertips. No sooner does the AdComm expert ask a specific question about the chemical composition of the drug than the CDO can search and present the slide with detailed information and a diagram of the compound.

Maybe then another panel expert asks about the methodology of Phase II trials. The presenter can switch and quickly find and project slides about Phase II trials. As Steven Weisman, co-founder of ISS notes:

Speakers are always presenting in high-pressure situations that require them to think on their feet and retrieve content quickly when asked. One misstep can drastically lower the odds of approval – costing companies millions of dollars.

Interactive presentations allow for back and forth, real discussion, between the presenter and the panel experts. The presenter can offer detailed, accurate information showing the AdComm that this drug has been properly developed, tested and is ready for market, while the AdComm gets the information it needs to recommend FDA approval.

The presentation follows the conversation.

Pharmaceutical Industry

Pharmaceutical Industry

Interactivity lets you manage the presentation during the meeting. It is more in line with how people think. Our minds are not linear. Even when we are focused on something, our minds still wander. Adjusting the meeting to your audience’s wandering mindset will help you engage, educate and ultimately convince people to act, which is what presentations are really for — incenting action.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Interactive meetings are more productive meetings.
  • We learn how to better serve our clients and business partners when they are sharing their knowledge and concerns with us.
  • When the presenter and the audience are both forcing themselves through a linear list of preconceived slides, it severely limits engagement, participation, and feedback. Feedback is how we learn more about our clients’ and colleagues’ needs, so we can offer a better solution.
  • The ability to adjust the content on-demand, during the meeting, and provide accurate information about a colleague’s issue will push a sale or an FDA approval further along. The presenter doesn’t have to say, “I’ll get back to you on that,” which will add weeks, even months to a deadline.
  • Interactive presentations empower presenters to cover more and do more, in the same amount of limited meeting time.

Interactive meetings elevate the presenter. When you answer your customers’ issues on-demand, you are perceived as smarter and more sincere. You are showing your customers that you are genuinely concerned with their problems, and you know how to solve them. In so doing, you elevate yourself from salesman to partner. Typically, CEOs and other senior-level executives can answer questions off the cuff. With interactive presentations, you are giving everyone in your company that ability. A junior sales rep looking for a deal can come across like a smart and trusted partner. Clients buy more from smart people whom they trust.

Interactive meetings can positively affect your bottom line.

Using Shufflrr for Events

All this talk about interactive presentations led to this question, that I asked James: How does a presentation management solution like Shufflrr help in delivering interactive presentations at AdComms or other events?

And here is his answer: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at conferences where something goes wrong with the presentations. Managing presentations at conferences is no easy task — some have upwards of 100 speakers in a dozen different rooms. We’re excited to be offering our solution that has been proven successful for the companies for which we manage presentations, to those hosting conferences. This will save them a lot of time and money – and some speakers a lot of embarrassment.

Learn more on the Shufflrr Events page.

Shufflrr Events

Shufflrr Events

In the next post of this series, we will look at how better storytelling can improve your presenting experience.

Presentation Management Series: All Posts

All posts from the Presentation Management series are listed on this page, Presentation Management: The Entire Series.


First, try and answer these questions. Feel free to read the post again if needed. Then, scroll down to below the author profiles to find the answers.

Q1: An Advisory Committee, or AdComm, is a panel of experts with special knowledge of the disease the drug is targeted to treat. Is this true or false?

Q2: Is it true that interactive meetings are more productive meetings?

AlexAnndra Ontra

AlexAnndra Ontra
AlexAnndra Ontra, co-founder of Shufflrr, is a leading advocate for presentation management. She has been providing presentation technology and consulting services to global enterprises for over 15 years.

At Shufflrr, Alex advises Shufflrr clients through the process: from trial, to content architecture, through the launch, training and then on-going software upgrades. She’s hands-on. She is a leading expert in presentation management strategy, implementation, and adaptation.


James Ontra

James Ontra
James Ontra is co-founder and CEO of Shufflrr.  His 30-year career has focused on the highest profile presentations for world class companies.  His clients have included:  American Express, Bloomberg, Epcot Center, Mercedes Benz, NBC Olympics, Warner Bros. and many more.

His vision and strategy have been driving Presentation Management to become a recognized communication discipline.  James combined this passion with technical development to build Shufflrr. Presentation Management is smart communication strategy.


Geetesh Bajaj

Geetesh Bajaj
Geetesh Bajaj is an awarded Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional), and has been designing and training with PowerPoint for more than two decades. He heads Indezine, a presentation design studio and content development organization based out of Hyderabad, India.

Geetesh believes that any PowerPoint presentation is a sum of its elements–these elements include abstract elements like story, consistency, and interactivity — and also slide elements like shapes, graphics, charts, text, sound, video, and animation. He explains how these elements work together in his training sessions. He has also authored six books on PowerPoint and Microsoft Office.

Quiz Answers

A1: Yes. An Advisory Committee is usually made up of doctors, scientists, patients and industry and consumer representatives.

A2: Yes. Interactive meetings elevate the presenter. When you answer your customers’ issues on-demand, you are perceived as smarter and more sincere. You are showing your customers that you are genuinely concerned with their problems, and you know how to solve them.

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