A presentation can put either a real crown or a crown of thorns on your head. It’s all about skills, precision and foresight. Boris Hristov, the founder of 356labs, introduces us to the art of a successful presentation. An acknowledgment of his professionalism is the fact that he is the first Bulgarian to receive the Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Award, which is given for merit in the presentation and PowerPoint community.
A successful presentation is not prepared in an hour or two before the event. There are three important components: the story (what you say), the design (how the slides look), as well as how it is presented and the interaction with the audience. The accumulated experience allows 356labs to enter into the specifics of each industry and put themselves in the shoes of each lecturer in order to inspire or blow up the audience, depending on the pre-determined goal. Everything should be prepared in a way that allows the presenter to feel confident on the stage. The magic comes when the lecturer manages to catch the “breath” of the audience and makes them hold it. And this happens when they know the audience and speak their language. But to reach this point, targeted preparation is needed.
Boris is an IT specialist who has worked in various companies. The presentations were his passion and he did not miss an opportunity to face the audience. He had his own approach and this didn’t go unnoticed. His aim was to present the most complex matter in the simplest way possible. Gradually, proposals for a wide range of participations started coming. After a webinar on presentation skills, he received many thank-you emails. This gave him the impetus to turn his passion into a business. He took the risk and succeeded. Four years later, the company’s team includes six people and the expansion continues. One of the reasons is that this service has become popular in Bulgaria and all over the world.
Boris and his team find inspiration for their growth and improvement in various industries. Even in the fashion world, they take many ideas and use them in their work in their own way. They are obsessed with details. Two years ago, Boris visited a Dior shop in Barcelona. When he saw the sellers touching the clothes with silk gloves, he said: “Yes, this is what we are doing as well! This is the organization that we are building, and I would like to be appreciated for our innate respect for detail.”
The contact with the audience should not be an end in itself, and every lecturer should be able to imagine that their presentation has the power to make every listener do something. The 356labs team helps the goal to be clearly defined, as this is the key to success. But there are still many subtleties and also a lot of work. In addition to client-specific presentations, 356labs also offers trainings. But they have no worries that they themselves may become unneeded or that they may create their own competitors. “If we inspire someone and give them confidence that they can start a business like this one, let them do it. If they are good enough, the market will accept them,” Boris Hristov believes.
The team is focused solely on presentations; they are the “sacred cow” of their activity. That is why they pay attention to every detail and consider the feedback from their clients very important. One of their happiest moments was when, after a presentation to the central management made with their support, a multinational company, instead of reducing its team in Bulgaria, expanded its business in the country. Their clients have won big investments – for example, in 2018, after an IPO presentation, Gradus attracted over EUR 40 million. Thus, day after day, 356labs clearly see the important role they play for the organizations and leaders they work with. But also the professional growth of many people who have gone through their training. “As cliché as it may sound, our clients’ successes are our successes. If one fails, the failure will be ours, as well. That is why we carefully choose who to work with and how to prepare them for the meeting with the audience,” Boris Hristov says.
The name of the business presentation agency was inspired by Porsche 356, a model known for its simple design. It is very important for the founder of 356labs that the company is always associated with simplicity and perfect design. And labs shows that it’s a lab that experiments, creates innovations, and sets trends. 356labs is the first company with such an activity in Bulgaria, but Boris Hristov believes that the art of presentations is yet to win standing ovations.