The KISS principle is the essence of good communication – Keep It Simple, Stupid! This admonishment always refers to the presenter. Encapsulate the essence of your idea into a clear and simple message. Simple is all about intent. Don’t sacrifice your core message, just lose the extraneous details.
Why is simple so important? Retired Brigadier General Tom Kolditz, founding Director of the Doerr Institute at Rice University explains: “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” Commander’s Intent is the embodiment of simple. CI = core + compact. To succeed in battle, you must know the intent of the mission, not fixate on the details. The more detailed and rigid the plan, the less likely it is to succeed. If you understand the intent, you can make course corrections along the way. Presentations should be no different. Focus on your core message and keep it compact.
The market is saturated with IT solutions. Decision makers are barraged by sales people telling them how their product is the best invention since sliced bread. If your story is compelling, then Be Bold, Be Brief and Be Gone. If it resonates, you will be called back!
Quad Charts, developed by NASA, are a great presentation tool. You can reduce an entire slide deck to one slide. The Army uses quad charts extensively and finds them one of the most useful briefing tools.
You can brief a decision maker on any topic in ten minutes! Leave five minutes for questions. For an initial briefing, limit yourself to one quad chart. After you have earned your listener’s respect, you can use up to five quad charts in a one-hour briefing.
As an enterprise architect, I am tempted to wow my audience with a complex future state architecture. A complex drawing showing how everything is connected, complete with a road map of how to get there. But this strategy can backfire. You must first earn the business before making such a presentation.
In an initial meeting, there are only two questions on a decision maker’s mind: “How does the solution solve my problem?” and “Who do I know already using it?” A general’s or a CIO’s time is precious. Show your respect by ending your presentation in 15 minutes or less. Success is measured by an invitation to come back.
Be Bold, Brief Brief…and Be Gone!
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