Death by Powerpoint

We’ve all attended meetings like this. We’re held hostage, forced to listen to a montage of talking heads. Sure, there may be time for Q&A, but very little discussion actually takes place. This is not what a customer advisory board meeting is supposed to be. Unfortunately, it is often the format. Here’s 3 ideas to help you plan an engaging agenda that avoids this trap.

1) Plan for discussions, not presentations

Agenda topics are best when centered on the questions you are most interested in asking customers. Answers to which will help you take action. These questions may regard your customers’ business as well as your company’s strategy, future investment options, roadmap growth plans, or even current events. Pick topics of strategic interest and avoid tactical product updates. Using only a few slides, state a hypothesis. Make a case. And include a trigger question on the final slideĀ that will spark dialog or debate with your customers. Success is not measured in the number of slides. Success comes from interaction that follows.

2) Let customers help plan the agenda

The most energized CAB meetings result from a shared learning experience. While the host company owns the final agenda, interviewing customers to explore topics of mutual interest is a great idea. They want to be involved, and this is a wonderful way to invite them into the dialog before the face-to-face meeting begins. It’s also a great opportunity to gather important background information while you solicit their feedback and input on agenda topics you may be considering. If a customer is passionate about a topic of relevance to your business, you might ask them to lead a discussion module.

3) Allow time for a customer breakout session

It doesn’t always have to be “presentations.” In some cases, mixing up the agenda with a short small-team breakout session might make sense. This allows a set of customers to have a deeper discussion on a topic. Then, they report back to the larger group to conclude the discussion. It invites them to take a more active role.

Avoiding “death by Powerpoint” is easy when CAB teams consider these and other best practices when forming the agenda. For more on this topic, I invite you to check out The Flipchart Guide to Customer Advisory Boards, Volume 2: How to execute a world-class CAB meeting.

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