I made time recently to read two really great books: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done and Beyond Bullet Points.
The first book, Execution, was given to my entire team at work by my Director. The underlying message I walked away with, which I completely buy into, is that while vision, strategy, planning, <insert other business stuff here> is important, nothing is as critical as the ability to execute. Moreover, an individual or a team's ability to execute is often incredibly difficult to gauge, and is regularly overlooked. Often, when things go wrong, we point the finger at market conditions -- or anything else outside of our control -- but rarely identify execution as a culprit.
The book's authors walk through what makes, and how to build, a culture of execution. At a high level, I took quite a bit away from the read. But, I'll probably need to give it another go 5-7 years down the road. The last 2/3rds focuses largely on hiring and operating strategies for the highest levels of the world's largest organizations. I felt a little out of the loop, not having interviewed any candidates for CEO positions lately. My other big complaint was that many of the anecdotes, while interesting, won't be memorable due to the omission of company names. Unfortunate.
The second book, Beyond Bullets, was a really fun read. It's one of those books that people have been talking about for ages, and that I finally got around to diving into.
Basically, bullets are boring. Stop trying to pack information into Powerpoint presentations in the form of bullets. Use Powerpoint to tell a story instead. People like stories. In fact, the book is written largely in the form of a story, which made for a very quick, engaging read. Cliff, the author, has a blog. Very interesting stuff.
A great blog post on presentations I came across is over on IA THINK, written by one of my friend Jill's coworkers. Also highly recommend checking that one out - contains lots of good links.
I have a big presentation to give at work next Monday to a sizeable group of people I've never met who are older and more experienced than I, including Directors way high above me in the organization. I'm weary of taking the chance and ditching bullets for a story-driven slide deck, but am strongly considering it at this point.
In general, giving presentations to large groups of unfamiliar people isn't one of my strongest competencies (yet). Anyone have any advice/suggestions for me?