Tag Archives: meeting

Develop a quick PowerPoint presentation

Let’s say you are the senior IT manager for a small company and your CEO has asked you to present an IT update for the Board of Director’s Meeting next week.

Where to start?

If you are like me when I first encountered such an opportunity, there may be some initial shock. After the panic leaves you, it’s time to prepare, , , where do we start?

Let’s outline what I do and then I’ll explain each part:

  1. Gather information about the presentation objectives
  2. Collect the data
  3. Make a list or two
  4. Develop a draft of title slides
  5. Fill in the slide bullet points
  6. Create your PowerPoint presentation
  7. Prepare for the presentation

Developing a presentation can be fairly quick, , , or you can agonize over it for days. Use this simple approach and it might make it easier for you. Let’s take a look at each step:

1.  Gather information about the presentation objectives
First of all, you need some information from your CEO, , ,  things like:

  • Anything specific you need me to cover?
  • What’s the background of the Board Members?
  • What’s the objective or goal of the presentation?
  • How much time do I have?

You may also want to get some other quick facts, such as:

  • Board Member names and where they are from
  • Sample of past presentations that worked well
  • PowerPoint format or template to use

Once you know what the objectives are and what your CEO wants you to cover, you should be able to identify the appropriate content to develop a presentation. That’s actually the easy part.

You also now know how much time you have, , , let’s say it is 30 minutes.

You need to get a feel for the type of people on the Board. Is this a group that usually lets the presenter walk through a presentation and asks questions at the end, , , or does it have Members of the Board who ask questions every step of the way.

The latter will eat up your time quicker than a bee can dart past your nose, so you need to know that this group can only absorb a little information.

In fact, that’s an important piece of information for presenting to any Board of Directors. In general, members of the Board of Directors are high level and mostly concept people, , , not highly detail oriented people who want to get into the muck. But, there are some who like to get into the detail so learn from your CEO what type of audience to expect.

For an audience who waits to ask questions at the end, , , count on 1 -2 minutes per slide, , , that means you can deliver 10 to 12 slides at most and still have time at the end for questions and discussion.

For the interactive group who asks lots of questions, consider 3-5 minutes per slide, , , that means you can only get through 5-8 slides comfortably.

2. Collect the data
What to cover is very important to know from your CEO. He may want you to deliver a general overall view of what’s taking place in IT for the company, or he may want you to spend the majority of your time to provide an update about a specific IT initiative the Board is interested in.

Once you know what the presentation objectives are and the subject, collect the data you need to develop a presentation. It might include recent management reports, cost justification analysis, project status updates, etc., , , whatever data you have that supports your topic and allows you to develop a few PowerPoint slides to discuss the subject.

It is also reasonable that every bit of the material could come out of your head, , , read on.

3.  Make a list or two
At this point, step back and put yourself into the mindset of your audience. In this case, the Board of Directors represent the owners of the company, , , so what would a company owner want to hear about this subject you are about to present?

Make a quick list of what you think they would want to know about. Ask your CEO or the meeting sponsor the question and gain their insight, , , always helpful.

When completed, think about key points you think are important to share. Make another list.

Now, you have a list of what the audience wants to hear and important points you believe need to be presented about your subject, , , plus you have supporting material by which to start developing slides.

4.  Develop a draft of title slides
Each of your slides needs a title, , , this is sort of like an outline of a book if you were writing a book. What I do when I plan to write a book is start by developing the Table of Contents, , , this is my book outline. A PowerPoint presentation works the same way, , , each slide is a key point you want to make as you walk through your subject, so create a title for each slide.

A quick and easy way to do this is to take a blank sheet of paper and draw a set of rectangle squares , , , I usually put 6 to 8 boxes on a sheet of paper. Each box represents a slide in your presentation.

Now, put the title of each of your slides in the top part of the boxes. I work left to right and to the bottom in the sequence I want my presentation.

Going into this process, you may not know how many slides your presentation will be or in exactly what order. Creating a paper draft makes it easy and creates thought as you work through the process.

When finished with identifying your title slides, check the number of slides and be sure you have ample time to present the content you are going to end up with based upon the guidelines I discussed earlier.

Once you get the slide titles defined, the rest is fairly easy, , , creating bullet points for each slide based upon its title.

When you start developing the detail of the slides, you may identify new slides you need to add or possibly slides that can be better discussed by combining them. The point is that the finished presentation will be slightly different from what you think it will be as you start working on it in the beginning.

5.  Fill in the slide bullet points
Next, put in the bullet points for each slide on the paper to complete the draft of your presentation.

A couple of key things to remember. First, you need to resist your urge to provide too much detail. In a slide presentation, too much detail makes it difficult for people to follow. Use short and crisp bullet points that you can talk about.

Next, keep the number of bullet points on a slide to a reasonable list, , , no more than 4 to 6 points on a slide. Anything over that is too much detail.

Finally, a single point and graphic on a slide can be a powerful message so focus on highlights, , , not detail, unless of course your CEO says he wants you to discuss the detail.

6.  Create your PowerPoint presentation
When you are comfortable with the presentation “draft”, create the PowerPoint slides using the presentation template needed to make it consistent with your CEO’s presentations look and feel.

As you build each slide from your paper draft, think about graphics that add value to the presentation or make your points easy to follow. Don’t be too cutesy, , , but good graphics can add a lot. As you build the slides, you will also make adjustments to your bullet points because you will think of things that need to be in the presentation.

Another point about graphics, , , senior executives love charts and graphs that make your message visible. A good chart showing positive progress can add tremendous value to your presentation.

By drafting the presentation on paper first and then building the PowerPoint slides from the draft, it allows you to walk through the presentation a couple of times, , , and this is always helpful for your thought process and will ultimately make the presentation better.

Let me repeat something here. Fight your tendency to provide too much detail, , , we want the major points, , , just the major points.

Fewer bullet points is better than lots of bullet points. Remember, these guys are high level, , , they want the answer, not all the detail. If they need detail, they will ask you questions and you can fill in the blanks.

IT people think everyone needs all the information possible. Just the opposite is the case, so keep your presentation at a high level, , , and use graphics to enhance the message.

Here are the first two slides of my presentation:

7.  Prepare for the presentation
Before the presentation, do a few things:

  1. Prepare a good opening to get things started smoothly, , , it will help calm your nerves.
  2. Rehearse what you plan to say and become intimately familiar with every slide you present.
  3. Anticipate questions you may be asked and come up with appropriate answers.
  4. Develop a list of key message points you want to make for each slide. This can help you stay on message and insure you emphasize each key point.

Prepare and you will come across knowledgeable and on top of your game. Go in there unprepared and they may rip you apart, , , so be prepared.

Motivate Staff With an Annual IT Kickoff Meeting

It’s the beginning of a new year and you want to “make it happen”. A new year to a certain extent can create a sense of a “new beginning”. Shed the problems of the past and look forward to the successes of the future. As a manager, you should take advantage of this sense of “new year” in a way that will motivate your staff to accomplish more.

Hold an Annual Kickoff Meeting for your staff.

An important lesson I learned at IBM many years ago was how much people appreciate knowing what’s going on in their company and how much they appreciate being “part of the team”.

Not just the IT team but the “company team”.

Monthly staff meetings were looked forward to and they built teamwork. Maybe I was in a special office, maybe it was just me, possibly it was my imagination, , , but I don’t really think so.

Want to know why?

It’s simple, I replicated this process for over 20 years in my IT management and CIO career and saw the same results with many different IT organizations. The bottom line is that your technical staff really does appreciate you taking time to discuss what’s going on, recognize accomplishments, develop a few skills or educate them on a topic of importance.

AT IBM, I was the “skit man”. For those who don’t know, a “skit” is a short play acted out to illustrate a certain theme or point, , , in my case, it usually included as much humor as possible. Whenever we needed to do something that allowed us to laugh a little, you better believe I was usually a part of the “skit”.

I’m a very serious person and committed to my work, but I can laugh at myself (and others) with the best of them. Not only is it fun, it builds camaraderie.

At IBM, I dressed up and acted parts that included a Wang salesman (remember the company Wang?), a Howdy Doody puppet, a gorilla, a Marine Drill Sargeant, , , even a 2-foot tall IBM “small person”.

One of the major events of the year was always the January Kickoff meeting. I have kicked off virtually every year of my management responsibility with a staff “kickoff” meeting. Depending upon the size of the group, this can become quite a production and require a good bit of work, even cost you some money, , , but it certainly doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

The benefits are significant. Here is why I start the year off with an IT Kickoff Meeting.

  • Rally the troops
  • Motivate employees
  • Build teamwork
  • Share the past year’s accomplishments
  • Present the new year’s objectives
  • Identify where we need to improve
  • Educate
  • Have some fun with my employees

At a Kickoff, it’s time for a little “rah-rah”, , , maybe a lot of “rah rah”. Get excited, pump yourself and your team up, and be positive and upbeat.

Part of a manager’s responsibility is to lead the team and to motivate the people in it. It’s hard to motivate if you aren’t a positive force yourself. I’m not suggesting you be fake about it, but at the beginning of a new year it’s actually quite easy to be optimistic about the future if you allow yourself to.

What ends up motivating employees is the additional insight into the business from their manager and your ability to be “charged up” in your delivery and optimism about the year ahead. Having specific objectives and details of what was good (and bad) in the past year is also very beneficial.

Technology employees in general are very conscientious and want to do a good job. They are looking for leaders who will bring them together and point out the direction we need to take as a team.

Here is a sample agenda I use for my IT Kickoff Meetings:

  • Welcome
  • Past year performance
    • Company
    • Key Organizations
    • IT Organization
  • Key accomplishments of the IT Organization
  • New Year Objectives
    • Company
    • Key Organizations
    • IT Organization
  • Guest Speaker (Executive Officer, Motivational Speaker, or someone who helps motivate)
  • Skit (some lighthearted fun)
  • Keys to a successful year
  • Recognition
  • Q&A time
  • Wrap-up

It’s important to start and end the meeting in a positive manner. I like to start my meetings with some upbeat music tied in with a slide show of photos showing all my employees at work and play during the past year.

People love to see themselves on the “big screen”.

Even if you don’t have any photos, you can get this part done in a single day or two with a digital camera. Take a walk around the company and start snapping pictures. You will be amazed at how much your employees will like this. When you are taking photos, coach your employees to be a bit creative in their poses, , , otherwise you may end up with a lot of solemn and boring photos. Including some of your clients in work related photos is also a very good thing.

I normally use PowerPoint’s slide show feature to do present the photos at the beginning of the Kickoff Meeting and pick a few really upbeat songs to go with the photos, , , something like the theme to Rocky works very well.

For the meeting, prepare PowerPoint presentations that are professional, organized, and share knowledge about the business. Mix it up with different topics and multiple speakers.

Give everyone a t-shirt or something unique to remember the Kickoff Meeting by. Use your imagination here. Again, you don’t have to spend a lot of money.

I suggest you provide morning and afternoon breaks and a nice lunch. This is usually where the expense will be.

Invite a speaker who can have a positive impact on your IT staff. This might be the CEO, a senior manager of the company, your CIO, or even an outside client who can do a credible job of speaking to your group. Senior executives are good, especially when they can articulate the importance IT has in the company meeting its objectives last year and in the future.

Consider conducting the meeting offsite. Getting everyone “away from the office” for a day is healthy. Just remember that even though you are having an offsite meeting, you must still support the technology of your company so communicate your whereabouts and create the ability for appropriate support people to be reached as necessary.

Positive things happen when your staff sees you going out of your way to make them aware of what’s going on in the company. When they see that you care about them, about whether or not they are successful or not, and that you are taking steps to help them succeed, watch out. People will walk through fire for you when you need it the most, but only if you have earned their respect.

A Kickoff alone won’t earn their respect. That’s pretty obvious, , , but doing things like this on a regular basis that keeps them informed, identifies where they are succeeding and where they need to improve is truly powerful. Have some fun with your Kickoff meeting and carry it through to monthly staff meetings. It has a positive impact on employee morale and is a great tool to focus on areas that need improving and to coach the team for higher performance.

Most managers don’t conduct these meetings. It’s either because they don’t know how, don’t realize the value of them, or are too lazy to make it happen, , , or maybe they think it takes people away from work. Remember, you have to create a support process that will support the business even though you are in an all day meeting. The client is working and IT must still be able to support your client.

What I can tell you is that you are missing a big opportunity to spend quality time with your employees if you don’t hold an annual Kickoff Meeting with something that “gets their attention” and shows you appreciate their efforts. It is great motivation material and excellent coaching time to improve the capabilities of your team.

Register to attend my webinar and learn more.Webinar1_Kickoff
Motivate Staff With an Annual IT Kickoff
will give you step by step instruction and insight into delivering a successful Kickoff Meeting that will be fun and memorable.