Preparing for a Big Presentation: Involve Stakeholders as Early as Possible

Preparing for a Big Presentation:  Involve Stakeholders as Early as Possible
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There is no better way to ensure the success of your presentation than to involve all stakeholder groups as early as possible.  The approach pays respect to the old adage of “no surprises” – as everyone will know what to expect. Ensure that everyone has some sense of ownership of the presentation – or at least those aspects that are most important to them.  This article explores aspects of thinking of yourself as an ‘integrator’ of input and ideas from your various stakeholders. Your presentation needs to integrate the ideas and inputs of your stakeholders into a cohesive that makes sense, holds together well, and that builds confidence that the project will be successful.

This is the second of a series of four articles on “Preparing for a Big Presentation”, where we explore critical aspects of preparing for a big presentation – one where you show your command of the project from a stakeholder perspective, your team’s capabilities and readiness to deliver, and your organizational and communication skills.  This article, Part 2 in the series, “Involve Stakeholders as Early as Possible,” looks at the importance of gathering input from all stakeholder groups early in the preparation process. Part 1, “Determine the Key Topics to Be Covered”, looks at the first steps of scoping the presentation to determine the primary topical areas to be covered.  Part 3, “Allow Plenty of Time to Prepare Slides,” gets into the nuts and bolts of building the slides of information to be presented. Finally, Part 4, “Rehearse and Build Flow and Confidence”, gets you ready for the physical audience-facing aspect of the presentation to ensure it flows smoothly for you and clearly for them.  

**Here are some key areas that will likely be part of any project presentation:
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  • Overall objectives – Be sure that you understand the project’s objectives well before any presentation.  It is also helpful to make sure that your customer knows you understand. So vet it out with them and ensure that you understand – and that they know you do – well in advance.  You may find some holes in the objectives that need to be reconciled, and your customer will greatly appreciate it – and remember it at presentation time.
  • Costs – Get clear on the costs – and ensure you and the customers are on the same page with this.  When this is accepted, not only will the project flow more smoothly, but your presentation will flow smoothly when it addresses cost-related topics.
  • Detailed Design – The ‘what’ and ‘how’ are critical aspects of the projects and literally get into the nuts and bolts.  Make sure you have identified the key customer participants that need to be in the loop – it won’t be everyone, as not everyone wants to get down to that level of detail.  And be sure to involve your key technical team members so that they take proper ownership of their area.
  • Schedule – Timing of deliverables is always on the minds of the customer.  It’s also on the minds of your upper management and your team. Make sure everyone understands so that your story holds together from all perspectives – and so that there are no surprises at presentation time.
  • Risks – Risks are a favorite topic of presentations.  The problem is that they can easily fall short…if they do not identify and discuss the key risks.  Again, in the name of ‘no surprises’, make sure you involve the customer, your team, and your upper management – all your key stakeholders – in the risk identification and mitigation process leading up to the presentation.

If you take on the mantra of ‘servant leader’ and keep in mind that you are the ‘integrator’ of the concerns of all of your stakeholders, you will be in a good place for this one.

Have you identified all of your key stakeholder groups – and involved them in their specific aspect of the project related to your presentation?

This Post is Part of the Series: Preparing for a Big Presentation

This series of four articles below explores the approach to building a successful presentation.

  1. Determine the Key Topics to Be Covered
  2. Involve Stakeholders as Early as Possible
  3. Allow Plenty of Time to Prepare Slides
  4. Rehearse and Build Flow and Confidence