Presentation skills for Product Manager’s
The Product Manager’s greatest value in any organization is to influence. We have no direct managerial responsibilities over team members. Communication skills are a must and presentation skills are then, a must-have. Here I have written my thoughts on how Junior/ Associate product managers can become better at presenting.
I remember the time when I was in my last year of high school, and as the captain of our school football team, I was selected to do a convocation speech. Anxious and nervous, I remember the day clearly even after 9 years. That was my first attempt at nailing story-telling where I managed the emotion of my speech with the audience interacting with me. Since then, I have spoken on public platforms and used every opportunity to be part of product demos, workshops, and much more.
As a new Associate Product Manager at Dynatrace, I also went through multiple rounds where presentation skills come into effect for the problem or case study that I worked on. Here I want to share some learnings and tips with aspiring and current Junior/Associate Product Managers on how to become better presenters.
Presenting is an important part of a product manager’s communications skills set. It’s part of communicating the product strategy to the business, and to the team that’s building the product. It’s also part of communication with customers — particularly in a B2B business when product managers areas the product experts — often needed to assist sales teams to talk to customers.
1. Defining the flow of your presentation
I am a progressive metal fan. I have always understood like music, the flow of my presentation and the emotions behind should increase and elevate the audience on what I am presenting, generating curiosity. You want our audience to second guess what’s coming some of the time but not always. This keeps them engaged and not lost. Transitioning from one part of the presentation to the other should be seamless and the presentation should appear to be a story with a cogent beginning, strong storyline, and a logical ending.
Product demos, presentations including pitches require not only for product managers to reach the solution, but to tell the audience the blood, sweat, and tears that went into tackling the problem and reaching a possible solution. You need not concentrate on the actual solution itself, but what led to that solution is important. Something, I have learned with feedback and from my mentors, it is to dig deep and also guide the audience with a story that conveys the message clearly and in the right order.
3. Attention to detail
Always set the agenda and vision for your presentation. How many time have you been in a situation where you have thought about “when is this presentation going to end?” or looking at your watch to see how long has been. As the presenter, it is your duty to set the key takeaways for the audience listening to you. We are humans and our attention span is low, really low. Decide on the duration of your presentation and which areas need to be covered in a comprehensive manner and which ones, only tangentially. I have always kept my presentations between 30–45 min depending on the problem that has been given to me for the case study.
Also for your slide deck (if you’re using one)
- Add references to the material you have used
- Provide clear Titles for each section
- Provide visual media (images, gifs, videos) and include bullet points instead of hanging text.
- Have an Agenda/ Content slide where you set a motive
- Include Conclusion slide followed with a slide titled Questions
4. Visual tools/ Medium to use
Decide on what platform you want to use before you start working on it. Nowadays, I have been part of product talks where product leaders have used the Miro board as a medium to present. Powerpoint, Google Slides, Canva are only a few examples that you can use as your medium for your presentation.
Once you have selected, always make a balance of the content you have on the slide and what you want to say. Include bullet points, visuals, and/or graphs to make it clear what you want to speak on. Have notes prepared and go through each slide to support your thought process and argument.
5. Ask questions to the audience
At times what I have experienced and works best is to add curiosity among the audience. Rhetorical questions in presentation work well but it is always good to engage with the audience. Ask them questions, you don’t have to expect a response but it gives them something to think. Or maybe mention a fact, which might lead to a question that gets their heads thinking. This keeps the audience engaged, curious and you end up not giving a boring presentation.
6. End like a rockstar
Giving presentations can be super stressful. This is not everyone's cup of tea but as product managers, we would have to build on this skill and communicate effectively with our stakeholders. Once you reach the end of your presentation, you want to end with a BANG, a subtle conclusion that leads an impact on the audience. Something that they remember you for, a question, a thought, whatever that might be.
I was always a nervous child/ student when it came to public speaking. Experiences helped me shape my presentation and communication skills. Core communication skills are pivotal for product managers. I always have had 4–5 people provide me feedback on my presentation before D-day.
Remember having an ill-prepared presentation and/ or boring audience will add to the stress. Give some of these pointers a try and see if it affects your ability to present. I am always learning and if something else has helped you and can help others’s please comment and share this. Till then, take care and happy learning! :)