How to present to management: A guide for developers and engineers

Presenting to management is about realizing that you have a busy audience that wants to know the impact, cost, and risk of the plan

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Presenting to management is different than presenting to other technical staff. However, it shares a lot in common with good writing: Keep the audience in mind, keep your key points in mind, and focus on communicating them succinctly. Presenting to management is about realizing that you have a busy audience that wants to know the impact, cost, and risk of the plan, not every detail of it (knowing and taking care of those details is what they pay you for). Management wants to know that you thought this plan out, considered alternatives, and did the research (even though management doesn’t want to know all the details).

So, what does that mean in practice? Here is a tutorial for developers and engineers to present successfully to managers.

Who is management, anyhow?

Before deciding whether you’re giving a presentation to “management,” you may first need to understand who management actually is.

This may sound controversial but not everyone with “manager” or even “director” in their title is actually management. If you’re in the technical organization of a bank or financial institution, not everyone with “vice president” in their title is actually management. There are even C-level titles (CEO, CFO, ...) titles that aren’t even really management. That’s because titles have often inflated to the point of near meaninglessness.

For the purposes of this article, “management” is the people authorized to allocate funds. Sometimes, there may be an intermediary (lower or middle management) who isn’t directly authorized but functions that way for all intents and purposes. If you’re giving a presentation to management, it is because a financial or business strategy decision has to be made.

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