Dear Bob ...
One of my less enjoyable responsibilities is delivering a monthly update report to the IT Ruling Council (officially it's the IT Steering Committee, but I believe in calling things what they are).
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My part in this charade is the operations review, which means showing the RC a bunch of statistics related to uptime, performance, spare capacity, and so on. I do this every month because the RC asked me to, but when I'm presenting, the fidgeting is obvious -- and fidgeting is how the polite members of the RC respond.
I'm seriously thinking of asking for a demotion so that I don't have to put myself through this anymore. Before I do, do you have any sage advice to give that will save both my sanity and my career?
- Dreading it
Dear Dreadful ...
You may be familiar with that tiresome, often-repeated phrase we've been hearing over and over again for the past few decades: "People have to take responsibility."
Don't blame your audience. It isn't their fault they're bored by your performance. If you want them to stay engaged, give them material that's engaging.
Here's the trick: No matter what the official subject, every successful presentation is an exercise in storytelling. It's a narrative, with a beginning, middle, and end, connected by an overall theme and sequenced through transitions that showcase each point you make as a logical follow-on to the preceding point.
Start with the take-home message: "This month, uptime, performance and capacity were within the normal range. The big story is that we're spending more and getting less for it. There are three reasons for this: A, B, and C. Here's what's happening in more detail." Follow that with the specifics for A, B, and C.
Or: "The story this month is prevention. Uptime, performance and capacity were within the normal range, but it wasn't automatic. Some of the steps you approved last January paid off, because we had several equipment failures that would have led to outages before we installed our new clustering technology, but now just led to our replacing failed equipment we were able to take offline without affecting production."