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Looking for a Better Way to Develop Business Presentations?


Learning a better way to develop business presentation will improve your career and work-life balance. Are you Communicating with FINESSE?
Learning a better way to develop business presentation will improve your career and work-life balance. Are you Communicating with FINESSE?

Most technical professionals find themselves bogged down by inefficient presentation preparation methods that result in information overload and diluted messaging. We need a better way. Business presentations are critical in conveying strategic visions, securing stakeholder buy-in, and driving decision-making. Improving the presentation development process results in increased productivity, cost savings, more effective communication, and better work-life balance. This article explores innovative strategies to streamline the development of business presentations.

 

Let’s Start With Us

Before we jump into what's wrong with everyone else, let's take stock of where technical professionals stand. First, we often are not good communicators because we focus on the hard skills. Second, because we are accomplished engineers, physicists, and computer scientists (you name it), we falsely believe that we can learn soft skills as we go. Third, we believe our facts are right, and certainly, our facts will carry the day.

 

All of this is certainly debatable. What is certain is that it is not working out too well for us. Business presentations consume our more productive time, our work-life balance is out of whack, and we often don't get our information into the presentation.

 

How Organizations Struggle

Most organizations start from the position that creating business presentations that include technical information and analysis takes a considerable amount of time. These are my top three ways organizations struggle with business presentations.

 

1. Complexity of Technical Content

Most organizations find it challenging and time-consuming to translate complex technical details into understandable and engaging content for a diverse audience.

 

2. Collaboration and Input

Achieving stakeholder agreement on key points and conclusions involves discussions, revisions, and sometimes lengthy negotiations. Organizations struggle with working across different specialties and business units.

 

3. Presentation Design

Organizations pay the marketing and visual design departments a lot of money. Creating visually appealing slides that effectively convey complex information requires design skills and tools, which can take significant time.

 

4. Approval Processes

No one in management wants to step out of line. Multiple layers of review and approval can add to the timeline, especially in large organizations.

 

5. Time Management and Prioritization

Internal project management sucks in most organizations, even at firms that specialize in project management.

 

Why Organizations Struggle

Fear is the main reason organizations struggle. I’ll leave the sources of those fears to debate, but the first one is that senior management has too little confidence in our soft skills. These are my top three fears, plus one.

 

1. Fear of Missing Important Information

Organizations fear omitting critical information for decision-making or understanding. Including extensive details upfront is seen as a way to mitigate this risk.

 

2. Fear of Under-Preparation (and a sloppy end product)

Organizations often start with a comprehensive approach to ensure all possible aspects and details are covered. This ensures no critical information is missed but can lead to an overload of content.

 

3. Fear of Not Being Concise

Senior management instinctively knows that they are over-conservative on the front end. So, the process of refining a presentation typically involves gradually distilling and prioritizing information based on feedback, leading to a reduction from an initially extensive base.

 

4. Compliance with Organizational Practices

Organizational practices and procedures often dictate a thorough, detailed initial draft that is gradually refined. The process stinks. On the other hand, our fear of non-compliance with marginal organizational practices often makes things worse than they need to be.

 

What We Can Do About It

Technical professionals can create presentations that are more focused, engaging, and easier to follow, ultimately saving time and effort in the preparation process. This often requires you to get out in front of marginal or poor organizational practices. Remember, you control the data and information. Having a good report, or at least a good executive summary, is where most good presentations are born.

 

1. Start Simple and Build Complexity

Like any analytical model or methodology, the best practice is to start simple and build complexity. Start with fewer slides and less information, and build complexity if needed.

 

2. Have a Methodology

We don’t design pressure vessels or cantilevered structures without having a methodology. Trial and error with respect to hard skills can injure or kill. Trial and error related to soft skills can injure or kill a career.

 

3. Focus on Accessibility

Language, visual, and hearing impairments are three barriers to communication that will impact between 10 and 25 percent of your audience. Start any presentation by resolving not to lose people with one of these three barriers. That approach makes it easier for everyone else, too.

 

4. Avoid Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

If you have been asked to speak as a technical professional, data and information are likely to be a key concern. Own it. Control it.

 

5. Provide The Information in Advance

No one likes to be surprised, and "grand reveals" are disrespectful. A best practice is to share your presentation in advance. You’ll also find it relieves some mental pressure on you and your team.

 

The Quest to Develop Better Business Presentations

Business presentations that include technical analysis demand multifaceted attention to detail, collaboration, design, and customization. Unfortunately, our fears lead us to build too much complexity up-front, which requires a lot of valuable resources. The results are often less than stellar because we built in too much complexity and had too little time to reduce it.

 

This brief article examines key hows and whys of why we need to improve developing business presentations. We touch on a few solutions, which we will expand on in a subsequent article. Remember to catch our upcoming free webinar on this impactful topic.



 

Learn to develop better business presentation in the CWF June webinar. Registration is free.
Learn to develop better business presentation in the CWF June webinar. Registration is free.

Business presentations are critical in conveying strategic visions, securing stakeholder buy-in, and driving decision-making. Improving the presentation development process results in increased productivity, cost savings, more effective communication, and better work-life balance.

 

This session will provide a new approach to developing business presentations more efficiently and effectively. It is intended for technical professionals and their work that involves analysis, statistics, modeling, complexity, and uncertainty.

 

The methodology focuses on effective communication practices, including working with audiences with language, visual, and hearing challenges. Tips will be provided on how to work more effectively with presentation development in multi-layered, bureaucratic environments.

 

Ready to get some of your productive time back? Are you ready for better work-life balance? Are you ready to be recognized more for the good work you do?


 

The key learning objectives are:

  • Understand flaws in typical approaches to business presentation development.

  • Apply a better method for developing business presentations.

  • Understand some of your own shortfalls related to effective communication.

  • Improve your ability to overcome audience barriers such as language and physical impairments.

  • Apply tips for making complex and uncertain information more understandable. 


About the Presenter

JD Solomon is the founder of JD Solomon, Inc., a company providing solutions for program development, asset management, and facilitation at the nexus of facilities, infrastructure, and the environment. He is the creator of the FINESSE fishbone diagram and the author of two books on effective communications.


 

Communicating with FINESSE is a not-for-profit community of technical professionals dedicated to being highly effective communicators and facilitators. Learn more about our publications, webinars, and workshops. Join the community for free.


 

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