Building a presentation - Part 2

Continuing from my last post,...

I decided to do a little more research into my audience, their backgrounds and perceptions.

What I uncovered
A few members of the audience have worked previously as business analysts. They are familiar with basic requirements gathering. None of them used requirements management tools and all attested to using MS Word.

As we have some Telelogic DOORS users at my company, some of the audience members had already seen the product and developed impressions about it such as,

I can't export my work (to MS Word.)
Why it's important
This information provided insight into how I can alter the content and structure of my presentation to be more effective to this group of individuals.
  1. I was originally thinking of doing 2 demos. One to show the loading / creation of requirements and the other to show how to link requirements together. However, it seems apparent that a 3rd demo on how to export a requirements document from Telelogic DOORS to MS Word-friendly formats is required. This demonstration would overcome the, "I can't export my work (to MS Word)," angst.
  2. The audience does have experience as business analysts; though I would say that collectively they do not have a lot of experience. Also, since they use MS Word, they are probably more used to writing full paragraphs and sentences versus atomic and easier to test requirements. Thus, I may want to include some examples on how to make requirement statements more clear.
  3. Because these individuals have done some requirements work in the past, I probably do not need to express why it is important to have good requirements.
  4. If they've only used MS Word documents, they have probably never really had decent requirement traceability and modularity. I'll want to show them the benefits of having these qualities.
  5. My audience will be composed mainly of people who I would say are logical thinkers. They like hearing facts and being shown proof!
Moving forward
Armed with this knowledge, I have a better idea of what type of material I need to cover and what things I don't. I also have some ideas on suitable approaches for them (e.g., logical arguments and demonstrations.) On to the next step of assembling material and defining my structure!

Building a presentation - Part 1

I've been asked to give a presentation on requirements management (more specifically Telelogic DOORS.) The purpose is to show how these things could be used within my company to help a particular business team. What I'd like to do in my next set of posts is walk you through my thought process developing this presentation. Let's start!

Know the audience
Looking back to an old post on presentation tips, one of the first things I need to do is understand my audience.

  • Who are they? A group that provides front-line support to data analysts who use a variety of data analytics and reporting products.
  • What is their background? Their backgrounds vary (I'm going to need to look into this more) but the team members (on average) have been with the company for less than a year.
  • What problems or opportunities are they facing? Little or no documentation on existing reports and processes. Hard to assess the impact of changes across the body of reports they maintain. They gather requirements for new data products and are expected to help bring them to fruition with the IT team. Currently, requirements are captured in MS Word and MS Excel (report mock-ups.)
Plan the presentation
  • Do I need a formal presentation at all? Verbal only? Will it be projected or given in a more 1-to-1 fashion? I'm going to be presenting to a group of 6-8 people so a visual presentation is probably more appropriate. I won't really be able to tailor it specifically to one individual.
  • What is the objective? The purpose of the presentation is to introduce Telelogic DOORS and requirements management. The message I'm trying to get across is basically to , "sell them," requirements management techniques and tools. This fits in well with the presentation template, "selling an idea," from my post Use the right presentation style to convey your message.
  • Do I need hand-outs? Handouts with additional detail and information would be very useful to drive home my point.

Poll: What do you use for requirements management?

What requirements management tool do you use and why do you use it? I've placed a poll on the right menu bar.

What do you like about it and what don't you like?

Use the right presentation style to convey your message

Presentations are about selling. Whether it be a product or even an idea, you are trying to communicate your point and get people to buy-in. But sometimes your message isn't presented in a manner that connects with your audience. There are a few reasons for this:

  • The contents of the presentation were not suitable. As a presenter you'll notice bewildered looks, the checking of watches and the occasional sleeper. Expectations need to be set! They should be set before you even start.
  • Your presentation did not use an approach that related to the audience. Some people are convinced by facts, others want to know the end goal while other people want to see a plan. Know your audience!
  • The presentation was not structured appropriately to convey your message. Even if you follow all the tips I've previously provided, a well thought out structure will be very beneficial.

This post will deal with providing the best template for your message depending on your objective. Its inspiration was a course I attended from Bina Feldman. Some of the material is derived from her work. As such, I will only go in-depth on a few of the templates.

First what are you trying to do?

  • Present a solution to a problem?
  • Share information?
  • Sell a product?
  • Recommend an alternative?
  • Give bad news?

The key is to understand what you are trying to accomplish and then use a presentation template that aligns with your goal.

A template for "recommending an alternative"

For arguments sake, let's suppose you are trying to recommend one alternative versus others. A suitable presentation template would be as follows:

  1. State the key decision.
  2. Define the key selection criteria (e.g., "must haves" and "nice to haves.")
  3. Rank the, "must haves." To quote George Orwell's Animal Farm, 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.'
  4. List the choices.
  5. Eliminate choices that do not satisfy the, "must have," criteria.
  6. Analyze the remaining choices against the, "nice to have," criteria.
  7. Outline the pros and cons of each choice.
  8. State your recommendation.

Notice the whole presentation style focuses on the recommendation and how it was reached. Everything works towards building up a strong case.

A template for "selling an idea (or product)"

  1. State the purpose.
  2. Outline the audience's needs.
  3. What are the features of your idea (product)?
  4. What are the benefits that your audience can reap?
  5. What's the problem with the status quo? Why don't we want to do nothing?
  6. Reconfirm the benefits.
  7. Show how to achieve the benefits. What needs to be done to get there?
  8. Ask for acceptance (e.g., complete the sale.)

Unlike the previous template this one focuses on illustrating the need for your idea and the benefits it provides. Create demand for your idea by stating the problems that are being faced.


I am only outlining 2 of the templates; in truth, there are many different ones (If you need some ideas feel free to contact me. Also, if you want formal training I suggest contacting Bina Feldman.)

Depending on the objective of your presentation, it is important to select a template that aligns with your goal. The use of an inappropriate template can render your presentation ineffective.

Webinar: Incorporate Real Innovation into Your Company's Business Processes

Below are the details for a 1-hour webinar, sponsored by Ziff-Davis, on innovating a company's business processes. The webinar will occur on July 11, 2006 @ 2:00 p.m. Eastern/11:00 a.m. Pacific. You can sign-up for it here.

Here is the description.

Real innovation, whether it's in technology or business processes, is not just about inventing something new, but rather it requires a conscious investment strategy, and the will to carry it out. As organizations feel the effects of globalization setting in and competition heating up, companies large and small are turning to the diligent application of any number of innovation practices to try and stay ahead. Customer innovation, innovating from the edge, and innovation road maps are all well-meaning efforts to help companies with the innovation process, but without the proper focus and follow through, these efforts could be fruitless and waste employee time and company money. Innovation means little if new products and services never see the light of day. Therefore, innovation by itself is not enough, it requires an investment strategy that puts your company's resources where they count, and a people strategy that aligns those resources with the best skills of all your employees.

Join this live, eSeminar, sponsored by IBM, and hear directly from technology and business process experts on:

  • How to encourage an atmosphere of innovated thinking in your organization
  • How technology advancements can assist an organization in staying on an innovative path
  • Innovative ways to approach customer service to differentiate yourself from your competitors
  • How to put in place the business practices and processes to see innovative ideas through to fruition

Some web apps to get you going

Here are some web applications that you can use to improve your productivity as a business analyst. All of these are free! But you should realize that there are some things you need to consider when using these types of products:

  • Confidentiality - Should business critical information be placed online?
  • Acceptability - Is the use of these tools acceptable to your client(s)?
  • Availability & recoverability - Can you get to your valued work products?

List of web apps

  • Gliffy - A diagramming tool that supports online collaboration. Easy to make simple process flow diagrams.
  • Google Notebook - A tool that allows you to make collections of information that you can arrange by subject.
  • Google Spreadsheets - Online spreadsheets! Not as powerful as Microsoft Excel but still useful.
  • Imagination Cubed - An online whiteboard where multiple people can collaboratively diagram and brainstorm ideas. Drawings can be saved and emailed.
  • Remember the milk - A to-do list application. You can email tasks to add to your list.
  •! - A web-based presentation application.
  • Voo2do - A to-do list application that is suitable for project task lists.
  • Zohowriter - A word processing application.

Unfortunately, I have not found any free online tools that support things central to business requirements such as traceability and change request management. Perhaps that's an idea for a Web 2.0 start-up. Hmmm...