26 Jul 2017

A Good Picture Will Survive a Bad Frame

“Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends”.
– Janis Joplin, Michael McClure and Bob Neuwirth

Let’s talk content.

I wonder how many hours of your life you have used up sitting through a PowerPoint presentation?

Let’s speculate that most managers in the Tech sector will endure 3 each week and they might be 20 minutes each. In a ten year career, the absolute minimum time investment is about 3 months of your life. 3 MONTHS OF YOUR LIFE.

In each of these presentations there will mix of important and useful content surrounded by needlessly lengthy introductions, meandering justifications, weak and pointless humorous anecdotes, bloated evidence and the personal opinions of the presenter (have you had enough yet?).

Of the 3 months of your life that you can never have again, perhaps the useful content may have lasted for a couple of days, I could live with that.

It is said that a good picture will survive a bad frame but the converse is not true.

A bad picture will never improve by being framed in the ornate or the expensive – think, silk purse and sow’s ear. We owe it to our colleagues and fellow travellers to ensure that we provide them with what they need, quickly and concisely, without (our) prejudice and with only the arguments, facts and figures that will enhance their understanding and allow them to make decisions that work.

Here is my simple guide:

What is your purpose?

What action and/or decision is required?  Be concrete and concise tell, your audience in advance so that they understand why they are in front of you.

Answer this question, “why will your audience buy your proposition?”

Consider what the audience interests are and what they really need.

Make your conclusion a bridge between step 1 and step 2

Develop a conclusion that satisfies the first two steps and demonstrates clearly why your proposition satisfies these requirements.

Prepare and organise your argument – facts, figures, argument, options considered, questions answered

Select and develop only the concrete facts, examples, illustrations, and stories etc., which lead the audience to make the same conclusion. Keep it concise, you do not need all the world’s arguments only those that support your proposition.

Create the shortest introduction you can.  Raise the questions you intend to answer, for example:

  1. You may have been asking yourselves “why do we now suffer from system delays?”
  2. “What could be a viable and cost effective solution?”
  3. “What will be required of you to govern this change”?

I aim to answer all 3 of these questions in my proposals and ask for your support at the end.

These ideas work equally well for email, phone calls and other meetings.

For more on this, consider enrolling on the next series of our Governing Change programme, starting on Tuesday 26th September, which equips managers with the skills, attitudes and disciplines needed to take their careers to the highest possible levels.

“Oh Lord, won’t you tell me when this Powerpoint ends?
My life feels all over, I must make amends”.

After, Janis Joplin