Wednesday, February 08, 2006

grind: the powerpoint deathmarch

Inevitably, all of us get to do this - Someone Very Important is giving a Very Important Presentation which involves Content You and You Alone Know.

You pop off a draft. Then another. Someone gives you some Verbal Edits, then some Written Edits. They might actually incorporate some comments into the deck itself.

Then the deathmarch starts.

It happens when you spin out a few more drafts, then folks start reacting to different versions. You start branching your deck to incorporate feedback, which results in divergent evolutionary lines of your original presentation.

And heaven forbid you use numbers. Oi vey, such a nightmare. Are we talking revenue, or bookings? Are we including services? What about renewals? Direct, direct plus channel? Maintenance?

Then, the final wrinkle - aligning financial targets with the goals of the person giving the pitch.

There are only a few hard and fast ways to get off the road to perdition when it comes to driving these chimeras to a point of minimal consensus sufficiently comprehensive to allow you to breathe easy again.
  1. Involve a limited number of key players and get feedback from all of them throughout the process.
  2. Be the center of the feedback wheel - interact directly with each of them, and don't allow feedback to travel among them without it going through you first.
  3. Use lots of crisp bullet points, and very few sentences.
  4. Be consistent in your formatting.
  5. Use official financials.
  6. Follow the Kawasaki rule: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point fonts.
Then participate in the practice, if possible. What you've crafted through committee might not translate into the spoken word as well as you might hope. So pay attention.

Then smile. It's fun. Honest.

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