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Planning Tip: Don’t Let Your PowerPoint Skip the Point

One of the best ways to avoid planning mishaps, especially project resource constraints, is to put implementation needs in all your PowerPoint decks. You might feel tempted to gloss over some dates and details for the sake of style, but this will come back to haunt you.

[box type=”alert” style=”rounded” border=”full”]This is especially important for large organizations or those with a lot of management tiers.[/box]

PowerPoint is (Sadly) THE Communication Tool

I hate to admit it, but PowerPoint is how organizations disseminate information. You have to make sure you put your needs in decks even when you have gantt charts, SOWs, road maps and dashboards. If you don’t, then you can’t expect anyone to know or care what’s going on until things start slipping.

You can create briefs, wikis, webinars, newsletters and podcasts but none of them will have legs like a concise deck with a few visualizations. I think this stinks, but I’ve found it to be true on countless engagements. You’ll always be asked for reports and data sets, but you’ll never get as much engagement with them as you do with a .ppt file.

The dependence of organizations on PowerPoint means that YOU are dependent on PowerPoint to identify the resources you need. Yes, you will have additional, separate conversations but every meeting represents a cost in time and effort. It’s better to leverage touch points earlier in the project.

Everyone Wants to Be Like a Certain Tech Luminary

Organizations end up with a lot of inspirational presentations and a lot of failed initiatives because we’ve been conditioned to try making presentations entertaining. Everyone wants to seem like Steve Jobs (visionary), no one wants to be Tim Cook (process master). Pretty graphics replace key points, clever quotes replace resource estimates, and tacky transitions replace timelines. Your audience doesn’t notice the “missing” parts until 2-3 weeks down the line when an update is requested and nothing has happened.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Remember that the Tim Cooks of the world are the ones that let businesses scale. Organizations can’t deliver without someone to author, own and educate about process.[/box]

Good Decks Keep Organizations from Slipping

I’ve come across so many decks where people have obviously invested hours in talking about impact and no time in explaining implementation.

You may impress people with your presentation skills when you focus on the big idea, but you also risk obscuring the real needs of your project (people, time, money, tools). It’s better to set realistic expectations & set the stage for resource conversations while you’ve got them hooked. The alternative is to have duplicate communication — having to reiterate everything presented earlier — AND then present your resource needs.

I don’t expect (or advise) that decks for executives go into minutiae, yet there needs to be something in there that says how and when things will get done. A simple “Next Steps” slide or a list of key dates will often do the trick. Remember that attention is the most scarce resource and plan communication accordingly.

Published in Project Management Ideas Working Blog

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