Presentation and Communications Checklist

Make a checklist and review it before, during, and after creating a presentation. Here are 4 things that I have to remind myself whenever I create a presentation or information transfer content.
  1. What are the top 3 things you wish to communicate?
  2. Who is the Audience?
  3. What outcomes are you trying to achieve?
  4. How will the materials be used over time?

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The mindmap was created in Mural.  You may be able to see it with this Mural link if it hasn't yet expired.


Partial transcript

The following text is from the talk transcript and require clean up.

This is really about how we're going to communicate? When we communicate with other people, we create a presentation or create some type of canned or interactive communication. What are the things we should think about? What are the kind of checklists we should have to make sure this communication is going to work the way we want?

This really came out of reviewing a PowerPoint presentation. There were parts of it I didn't like about my contributions. There were parts  I didn’t like about other people's contributions. How much was too much message in the time we had? What was the right level of depth?

What are the top 3-5 things you wish to communicate?

What are the top three to five things we want to get across? We used to call this the elevator pitch. If I were in an elevator for 30 seconds with somebody, what would the pitch be? What are the top three to five things I'm going to communicate?  30 seconds is all the time I've got.  

If I'm doing a communication in something canned, I still think what are the top three to five top-level bullet points. Then you can have a whole bunch of detail depending on the audience. The first question is what are the top three to five things I showed three topics and then a couple of those had subtopics.   I'm drilling I'm giving a little more detail on the subtopics. 

Who is the Audience?

Who is the audience? That determines the level of detail and it also gets bound into what outcome. If I'm doing this communication with specialists,  that's going to be a lot different level of abstraction than it is a C-level. Now sometimes C-levels or VPs have been in your space before so we have got to put enough detail in and they'll go nitpick against what they know.  But you know a specialist conversation might be very technical if it was an engineer. The VP is going to be very strategic. If I'm doing a supply chain presentation the supply chain team gets details and the executive team gets rollups. They need enough supporting detail in case somebody asks a question.  Who's the audience? Are they leadership or are they your team? This is something you're going to iterate on while you're communicating with your team. Is it training documentation for your team or is it for partner teams? ?s it for a partner or friend-emy team.  You know the teams you're supposed to be working with that really have no interest in working with you because they only care about what they're working on. Is it a customer we trying to communicate with?  If so,  what are we trying to communicate? Always ask who is the audience? That's going to determine the level of detail and how much background we need to provide.  

What is the desired outcome?

  • What outcome do you want? 
  • Why are you doing this communication? 
  • Are you looking for buy-in?  We've already we're making this decision or we think we want to make this decision we're trying to get people to buy in. 
  • Are you expecting them to take action right then? I was in one presentation the other day and the entire talk was about what we needed another team to do.  We had a certain set of requirements right. In that case, we needed them to take action or make a decision. “Yes, they're going to support this” or “No they're not” We want them to make a decision based on this communication.
  • This whole discussion may be a fait accompli and we’re just informing them with illusion of buy in.
  • Are we expecting to get a follow-up out of this?  
We want to avoid the horrible meeting type thing when you set up a meeting and you don't know what the desired outcome of the meeting is.  When I give a presentation or we give a talk, maybe I want a follow-up. 
  • “Hey we're going to do training on this here's the basics of this to get you interested” 
  • “Now we need to schedule follow-up tasks”. 
  • “We're going to do a follow-up communication with you to go flush this” 

How will they use the materials?

This section is a recording transcription and you can tell that by the flow.

Ask yourself

  • How will those materials be used?
  • Will they be just used in a presentation and communication? Maybe they will only be visible in a recording like this one.
  • Are they going to be used for train-the-trainer?  If so, the docs that we provide actually you're going to use the exact same way for the same purpose. 

Sometimes the content is going to be primary documentation. I worked at a large Bank in McLean VA. All our docs and all the executive documentation were PowerPoint.  They were super dense almost like Word documents with a lot of text. Every executive communication was created in PowerPoint with a lot of text, often with few diagrams making them feel more dense. 

This is different from the usual situation where we do a few words and lots of diagrams and graphics in a presentation This lets you use it for different altitudes in different audiences.  You can tune what you say based on the audience or what you're trying to make happen at that time.

The bank used presentation materials as documentation so there were hundreds of words on every page. It was horrible to communicate because you had to read every page. You repeated all the words on every page. It was pretty evil. Then it was passed around to others. In that case, it made sense because they didn’t require explanation but they were rigid.  One downside is that you can get stuck in the words.  Sometimes the abstractions are good like diagrams and pictures because people understand that you just provide enough information.

Checklist review

Our checklist includes

  1. The top three things we want to communicate
  2. Who is the audience going to be
  3. What outcome do I expect from this communication?
  4. How will the materials be used in the future and what needs to be included to deal with that?

Revision History

Created 2023/11
"How will they use.." revised 2024/01


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