Understand how the current process of going from analysis to communication is backward, dysfunctional, and causes failures in communication
- When you have a recommendation you're trying to get approved within your organization, there going to be a lot of stakeholders you have to get your idea in front of. You'll have to put it in front of your manager, maybe their boss, a director, some vice presidents. Some of you ideas may even go all they up to the C-suite, and there's something I like to call Figliuolo's Law which states, and individual's annual compensation is inversely proportional to the number of slides to look at before they have a stroke.
I've worked with a CEO who said, "If it has a staple, I won't read it." I worked closely with another CEO and we went in to present. The other team went to present first. He picked up their presentation, he felt it for heft, and it was only about 25 pages long, he threw it across the room and said, "Talk to me, what do you want? I'm busy." Now, we knew better we had presented to him before. Our presentation was three slides long. Effective communications is one of the most critical skills out there, but so many times we're just flat-bad at it.
This isn't about PowerPoint. This isn't about presentations. This is all about the thinking that happens before you start writing that presentation. So let's look at how we typically do things today. First, we'll start by doing a bunch of analysis because we have the data. We can slice it, we can dice it, we can create graphs and pivot tables. And once we get done with our analysis, we look for an insight. The graph went up and I thought it would go down.
There must be an insight there. We then write a thick, incomprehensible, 80 page long presentation because we want to show everybody how rigorous we've been and how hard we've been working. We then go to share that presentation in a two hour meeting, and people are watching the clock go round and round and round. And about 20 minutes in, you've lost them. People are falling asleep, people are on their phones. You don't get your point across.
The negative impacts of this approach are huge. First, poor communication is inefficient. Most of that analysis you've done will not see the light of day. Most of the slides you put together for a presentation will never be shown. And after that meeting people walk out scratching their head and saying, "I don't know what we just decided." Well, you have to have another meeting. It's a complete waste of time.
It's also ineffective. Your ideas don't get approved if you're not thoughtful about how you're going to communicate, and what information you're trying to get across, as well as what information you're not going to share. The method is broken. We have to get better at communications. So what I'd like to offer is a very different process for thinking through how you're going to construct and ultimately share your recommendations.
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- Using the Structured Thought and Communication method
- Selecting an architecture style for your idea
- Testing your idea
- Refining your idea into a story
- Identifying the required facts
- Proving and disproving hypotheses
- Choosing a communication format
- Finalizing your presentation