Back in 2010 when I first started working in a transnational company I felt like “Alice through the looking glass.” It looked to me like some kind of fantastic world where everything had a different logic than I was used to, and presentations were one of those things. Most of the corporate communication was in Power Point (PPT), so I had to understand its power and to start successfully using it, because in a corporation PPT shows if you belong there or not.
In 2011 I was sent to London to improve my presentation skills by learning SCQuARE methodology. “Gosh, I thought! I learned how to work in PPT, insert pictures, graphics, animation. What else do I have to learn?” The answer was: “To get thinking skills to be able to break down problems or opportunities, determine the right solutions and then put it all back together into a compelling story.” So, I learned SCQuARE, where:
- “S” is the starting-point, settings, “So What?” It provides the relevant setting and context for the reminder of your plan. Here you want to see from the audience the body language of a “nodding dog.” You want everyone agreeing and this is the key point of alignment, nothing controversial.
- “C” is changes, complications, causes, and consequences. These are the reasons you are preparing the plan. And at this stage you have to “cage any birds.” Birds are the ideas that go flying around the room that you should have closed-off and keep these birds in a cage; close-off non-starters in this section of the plan by outlining any key options you have reached and explain why.
- “Q” is pivotal questions. This is the strategic question that is the axis of the total proposition or plan. Make sure you include significant resources/options as opportunities before this section to avoid “rabbits being pulled out of the hat.” No solutions coming out from nowhere.
- “A” stands for answer. The most compelling answer you can give to demonstrate that you can deliver the objectives/aims. And here you are fishing. The Answer should have people asking, “tell me how this works?” If they do, you know you have the fish on the hook.
- “RE” are recommendations and evidence. To develop a plan into one that merits a decision, you need to answer two questions: “How will your recommendations work?” and “Why are we proposing these solutions?” This is where you rigorously check for Rabbits again, but also for Cockroaches – the questions you cannot answer, which will have the audience searching for more.
I practiced a lot after I came back from that training, improving my presentations skills in Power Point, making my presentations better, more structured, anticipating questions, preparing “hooks,” “caging the birds.” I became a “HiPo” (high potential) employee in that company, but I kept reflecting on why I left the company in less than five years and didn’t choose to keep going up, keep “selling” myself and my skills to the stakeholders through some nicely made PPTs?
My MBA studies made me think about this again, and my answer for now is: “Definitely, good presentation skills are an asset and can help you in your career. But the corporate world is different, it can be the other side of a looking glass. Some companies exaggerate using presentations tools (such as Power Point) in internal and external communication, almost replacing good human interpersonal communication. People start talking in PPT, thinking in PPT and living in PPT. They abandon real communication and never come back to it, being stuck in a virtual world of Power Point, Excel and Prezi. So, we all want to be a better version of ourselves, but we need to understand how far we are willing to go in order to not lose the connection with ourselves.”