Mentor Room Recommendation: slide:ology

Time for another Mentor Room recommendation. Today I’m offering a very important book for leaders called “slide:ology”. Once again, this book has nothing to do with project management directly. Project managers need to know how to dance. Every stakeholder I’ve ever met has made me burn my salsa shoes right into the ground while a holding carrot that represented something I wanted. I always considered it a trade-off: I give you a performance you’ll never forget and you hand me that carrot. Call it whatever you like: I still get what I want and at least I only do it during the daytime. 😉

Unfortunately I don’t know of a project management school that teaches you any dance steps more complicated than the macarena.

When you’re working in an environment with so many competing agendas, good presentation skills are vital. A good presenter wields influence and charisma that gets the project team the resources it needs to continue. A good presenter can spin bad news into opportunity, and when everything looks its bleakest, still manage to get blood from a stone.

A crucial element of a presentation is the slide deck itself.

A slide deck is not a cheat sheet meant to jog your memory. It’s the vehicle that lets your story unfold. Most people forget this. When you stand up in front of a room of people, what you say and do is for their benefit. What your audience does when the presentation is over is for your benefit. Imagine if you bought a ticket to the theatre, went to the show, and prompters were sitting on the sides in dumpy clothes filling in lines for the actors who couldn’t remember them and clearly hadn’t practiced. Then imagine the director didn’t bother to waste time on things like costume or ambience. How would you feel? Would you be willing to donate money to support the theatre company in its next season? No? Then why do you feel you can do a lame, half-assed job on your presentation and expect your audience to do something for you?

Your presentation isn’t about, to, or for you. It’s for your audience, and my goodness how we seem to have forgotten that.

If I don’t sell you on this wonderful book, let Nancy herself do it in the video below. I’m warning you now, she doesn’t pull any punches. “Most slides are putrid,” Nancy derides. “Slides have become a dumping ground for anything that can serve as a visual crutch for the presenter, so they remember what to say.” She summarizes her book nicely in this video, but while you’re watching, take note of some of the things she does to communicate with you. Are your presentation decks are as cool as hers?


Video courtesy of BNETvideo on YouTube.

(Full disclosure: yes, I’m an an Amazon affiliate, and will benefit directly, in small amounts, from any purchase you make.)

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I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
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