There are all sorts of tips, tricks and techniques one can offer to someone getting ready to make an important business presentation, but the most obvious is the also the most important: pay attention and eliminate all basic spelling and grammar mistakes!
I was reminded of this lesson while going through some boxes full of old papers the other day, when I happened upon the hard copy of a presentation I attended many moons ago, which resulted in a consultant being taken off a project immediately.
About 15 years ago I was involved with a major enterprise systems project. The company I worked for had a distribution center in Indianapolis, and we were going to implement a state-of-the-art warehouse management system (Manhattan PKMS), while the rest of the business (customer order processing, financials, etc.) was being merged into the ERP being used by a sister company. This was as big and risky as IT projects get, as we were swapping out all the major business systems and processes, along with having to develop new interfaces and ultimately moving business functions from one location to another.
Death By PowerPoint
For the kickoff of this massive endeavor we traveled up to the corporate headquarters in Wisconsin for an all-day meeting, with about two dozen key players in a conference room along with a selection of consultants who were going to help with the overall management of multiple projects taking place at the same time. Like any consulting firm they were trying to load up the roster (and the billing) with a number of experts in various areas, and one in particular was to focus on the topic of “Quality Control”, i.e. making sure that objectives were actually being achieved.
Our management was skeptical about the need for a consultant specifically playing that role, and once the young lady gave her presentation early in the kickoff meeting, her fate was sealed. After she finished we took a short break and she wasn’t seen again.
I’ll let you take a look at the first page of this presentation… can you guess why it didn’t go over well?