I believe the most important aspect of my role as a CIO is communication. A mediocre strategy that is well articulated will produce greater results than an excellent strategy that is not understood by those who must execute and support it.
There are many communication vehicles, but those of us at the senior management level must be able to stand in front of a few hundred people and deliver a 30-minute presentation that is effective and engaging.
I enjoy this aspect of my job and I am constantly seeking to get better at it. I think I am better than average, but short of where I want to be. No matter how good one gets at it, an engaging presentation requires time to craft and practice to deliver well. I can still fall on my face if I do not have enough preparation time.
Every time I start to prepare a new presentation, I do so with the intent of rivaling what Steve Jobs would do. The limitations of time and talent will keep me well short of that, but that is the mindset I start with.
Most folks in the corporate world start their presentations using a PowerPoint template created by the marketing department — and most of those templates are awful. When Steve Jobs introduced a new product, did his slides have the top third reserved for a giant title? Did every slide need to be branded with the Apple logo and tagline? Did those slides use bullet pointed lines of text which he would read to the audience? Be brave; dump your corporate PowerPoint template.
There are a couple of books that I have found to be helpful and would recommend to anyone who wants to become a better presenter. Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen has many suggestions about the entire process of creating and delivering a presentation. It truly shines in the guidance it provides on creating engaging slides — the type of slides Steve Jobs would use.
Another book that I have recently begun to re-read is Granville Toogood’s The New Articulate Executive. It is filled with presentation wisdom.
If anyone has presentation tips or book recommendations, I would appreciate it if you left them as a comment to my post.