So, you have been assigned the responsibility to get 15 senior business unit leaders all over the world to produce one coherent company strategy presentation in 2 months. Your role is just process, you are a relatively junior executive in the organisation, and the only leverage you have is backup by your CEO. A dream assignment...

It is tempting to try to make it as easy as possible by creating standard presentation structures, standard colour templates for everybody to follow. On top of that you could force deadlines on everybody to write down the key messages of the presentation first, ahead of the actual slides. You can write all this down in a beautiful Gantt chart.

In theory, this all makes sense. In practice though, I see that people only really start to focus when the actual content of the story is produced. So, here is an alternative and slightly more messy approach.

Start with the substance. Have each business unit Frankenstein together a deck of existing slides, and use that first presentation as a basis for a discussion what the business unit actually wants to say. What matters here is the sound track, the verbal story, not the actual slides. You need a trigger for them to start talking to you.

Second, try to get a fellow junior executive in every business unit who takes ownership of the presentation. This person will be easier to access and more skilled in PowerPoint than the business unit leader.

Now, start working with your 15 colleagues on getting to a uniform presentation. Create the common PowerPoint template and sketch out the structure of a business unit-specific deck based on the verbal briefing you had. Give home work to your 15 colleagues and follow up with frequent progress reviews. Create some competition by putting up draft presentations for everyone to read throughout the 2 months progress.

While visually the presentations should look the same, it is OK that each presentation deviates slightly in structure. Each business unit is likely to have its own story, requiring its own flow. And listening to 15 presentations that follow exactly the same rhythm is very boring.

Good luck!

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