FRAMEWORK FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE TEAMS

UGLY PRESENTATIONS

A picture is worth a thousand words, and as a team leader you usually want to prepare some visuals when you need to introduce the team into a new project, significant scope changes, explain the business impact, communicate the customers' feedback. However preparing presentations is a time consuming effort, how can you find capacity for that considering your usual workload?
There are multiple ways how you can give a boost to your visual presentations skills, and one essential rule, that you need to remember in order to limit the time you are spending on presentations.

If you want your presentations to look good (and use consistent visual language), you may want to spend some time, and prepare a few templates, that you will keep in your "master slide deck" for re-use:
- Adapt a few in-built "Smart Art" templates (e.g. cycles, workflows);
- Choose your favorite set of clipart or icons for representing different actors - customers, organizations and different teams;
- Prepare and keep using consistent visual representation for concepts like risks, opportunities, successes, failures, endangered timelines, unknowns, etc.

If you want to increase the engagement of the auditory while you are presenting, you can learn some basic sketching, and start using a drawing pad. It is way more easy in practice, compared to what is sounds. I am really bad at drawing, still I am using this approach a lot, and can confirm, that people are way more engaged when I am creating the slides live during the presentation.

Finally, you need to remember the essential rule of any communication - it has to be tailored to your auditory. Apart from using charts for business stakeholders and pictures for designers, that means that the prettiness and completeness of your slide deck can also vary. This is a tough point for perfectionists to accept, however it makes no sense in putting as much effort in a presentation of some feature for your team as you put into the slides, that will be shared with the whole company during a monthly All Hands meeting.

However, preparing a lousy presentation will not meet your intention - delivering a vivid visual message, building a stronger connection to the team members while presenting and discussing the topic, and spending as little time as possible on the preparation of slides.

What you can do, rather than preparing bad slides, that look like they are supposed to be good looking, but you had no time to prepare properly - create the ugliest possible slides, that are glorious in their ugliness. Use crazy colors, weird pictures, GIFs and animations. Make your slide deck flashy, bold and incredibly raw - I usually don't send more than one minute for one slide in such cases.

When you talk to the team, tell them, that this slide deck is made in the "ugly presentation" format. Have a good laugh all together. Encourage the team members to use such approach when they want to present things.

Apparently having fun helps in understanding complex topics. It also helps in creating a safer space for discussions, compared to the "serious" environments. In my experience people tend to be less opinionated and more collaborative, when they are in a playful mood. They tend to challenge Mega-Projects and give visibility to Stealth topics more often, which greatly impacts the quality of the decision making, and in the longer run - success of the endeavors the team is taking on.

Written by Aleksandr Zuravliov

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