We are constantly on a path to make company operations more efficient. First we tackled factories, assembly lines, supply chains, leaving us with that ballooning layer of middle management that spends time on meetings, memos, analysis, more meetings, doing the annual accounts.

But slowly things are changing. It is striking to see how state of the art analysis I was doing pretty much by hand at McKinsey in the 1990s (as in allocating cost to a product) is now automated and computerised. Projects that would require 3 months of management consultants can now be done with the press of a button.

One reasons for this is technology, but an equally important driver is the basic idea behind the original analysis. How to think about product costing, what you would have to measure, how to allocate it etc etc. Over the past 20 years, people have learned how to approach this problem, and mastered the skill of actually interpreting the data quickly. 

Something similar is happening in the world of presentations. Long-winded memos are out, people now have the courage to say that a presentation meeting is useless, people have read thousands and thousands of business presentations that pretty much follow the same structure.

What does it mean for your presentation? (I am thinking of an "everyday" deck in a company, not a major TED Talk) 

  • Stick to the format/story line that people have gotten used to
  • Cut all excess padding: things people already know are convinced of, buzzwords, background info
  • Focus and spend time on what matters, what is unusual, unexpected, not obvious

Cover image by rawpixel on Unsplash

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