As project manager, it is important to master the art of doing presentations. Most projects will require at some point a presentation. It may be at the beginning of the project, during the initiation phase. Or it may be at the end of the planning phase to present the project plan. Let’s not forget all those status update presentations that may need to be done during the whole life-cycle of the project. And if you have a significant change or issue to manage, it may also require again a presentation.
Unfortunately, we all heard the expression “Death by Powerpoint”. This expression is a bit a critic of a flagship product of Microsoft. Powerpoint became almost an obsession in the 90s. At least today, people no longer think that Powerpoint is a good substitute for a word processor, or worse, for a spreadsheet. I remember too much in the 90s when people would try to use Powerpoint for everything… To be honest, you can use Apple Keynote and still kill your audience if you don’t design well your presentation.
A presentation is essentially a communication. It is done from one person to another, or to a group of persons. The tool should support the presentation and not override the presentation.
One key element of a presentation is often forgotten: what is the purpose of the presentation?
- Is it done to support a decision?
- Is it done to create a strategic discussion?
- Is it just for information?
If the author does not design the presentation to support the objective, it is very likely that the presentation will lack focus. I can also fail to achieve its objective.
A failed presentation can be very costly. Let’s imagine a meeting with an automatic counter for the time of each attendees. The cost of the meeting is a function of how many persons attending the meeting and their individual hourly cost. It is not hard to have a meeting of $1,000/hour or more. Doing a presentation that lacks focus and fails to achieve its objective can be costly.
Another common error is to send a report in advance and read the report to the audience. If it is sent in advance, as a member of the audience, I am supposed to have done my homework. Your presentation should focus on key elements, telling me what you want to highlight.
A failed presentation also does not support the project. As a project manager, successfully completing the project is definitely one of our core role.
Here is a very good presentation on Slideshare on presentation. It is called Presenting with Power: Planning and Preparing Presentations. I’ve read a lot on the subject, and enjoyed or suffered many presentations in many career. I can honestly say that I was very impressed with the quality of the content. Again, David Rogerberg did a very fine job is leading the creating of this presentation.