I’m not a presentation expert
Tobias Schelle September 18, 2013

This is the 6th post of my 30 days of honest writing challenge.

You have to become an expert in your industry

I can’t count many times I’ve heard that advice. The truth is, I’m not a presentation expert, and I have no ambition to be perceived as one. Guy Reynolds and Nancy Duarte are experts in presentation design and skills. I’ve been working with presentations since 2009, so of course I have a knowledge that could be considered as above average. But an expert? No. In fact, the truth is I don’t enjoy working in PowerPoint. I rather draw something in hand and let one of our designers create the slides. They are experts! The thing is I’m not a designer, and making things look really good is not a skill I possess. I don’t know which colors are good combined, or how to make a gradient look natural.

But I’m not in the presentation design industry. I’m in the outsourcing industry. 24Slides is just a fraction of what I imagine me doing in 10 years. I’m motivated by the fact that you can provide a service that has western standards at a much lower price. I would rather consider myself as an outsourcing expert.

When outsourcing is a bad choice

6-7 years ago it became very popular to outsource support, research and development to India. Salaries were low. Then a funny thing happened; people started going back to using local providers. Why? There are probably tons of studies and reports out there explaining this, but from my own experience the challenge was very simple: the cost of communicating outweigh the advantage of the lower salaries.

Imagine that you outsource the development of a website to India. You get on a Skype call. You might even provide a spec-sheet where all requirements for the website is. When you see the first draft there a 10-15 things that have been misunderstood. Even things that were mentioned in the spec-sheet. Skype call again. Emails back and forth. The project is postponed. In the end you’ve spend much longer on communication than expected. Time you could have spend elsewhere. It has a cost. And how quickly could the project have been done if you were sitting next to a local developer? No need for a spec-sheet as he could just ask you whenever he was in doubt (something that is very uncommon in Asia).

Why we need to become communications experts

What I want to tell by this story is that there is unrealized potential in eliminating or minimizing the extra cost of communication. The cost is not high because you are sitting on the other side of the globe. Previously, I worked out of Bali for clients in Denmark with a 6 hour time difference. Besides finding a good time for a Skype call, there were no problems. We spoke the same language. They understood me, I understood them, what they wanted, and how they worked. Actually, I think there is a good possibility that, when done right, the cost of communicating virtually is less than communicating physically Think about all the useless stuff you talk with guy next to you about – that has a cost as well. A cost that is not there when you schedule a call with someone on the other side of the globe.

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My ambition is to eliminate that extra cost that people experience when they outsource something. I want to become an expert in that and move the business into other areas as well. There is so much talent here. But much of it is unrealized because the communication is ineffective on both sides. First we need to learn much more about our customers. Really understand them. Second, we need to educate our customers how to become virtual communication experts. It’s very different from communicating with a guy in the office.

Customers say it’s unbelievable how far we have come in 12 months. This is only the beginning though.

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