Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Presenting Science in order to get money

Recently we went through the process, as we do somewhat quarterly, of reviewing projects to see what we keep working on and what we kill. In addition we go over what has just launched, what is about to launch, and general other strategy discussions. Leaving aside what actually happened in the meeting, here are some take home messages of how to talk people out of money, or how to keep your project alive. These cover more than just this kind of presentation, so are probably generalizable to other fields.
  • If you want a "YES" and you get it, shut up. More talking on the subject can only lead to "NO". You already have the yes, adding more to the discussion only hurts. You can't do better then yes. If the person was already disposed to agree with you, and therefore they say yes before you have made it all the way through your presentation, STOP. You don't need to do the rest of the presentation just because you can, you need to STOP. We know you work hard, talking more doesn't make that more/less clear.
  • On projects that are known to be unpopular, the less said the better. If you get grilled, it will happen whether or not you have a lot prepped. If you are up there for less time, and no grilling happens, count yourself lucky and sit down. The project lived to fight another day.
  • ALWAY assume that senior management talk to each other outside of the room. Don't change your presentation based on thinkning that A knows something because you think B talked to them, but don't be surprised when controversial things you are going to present go smoother or downhill more quickly. I watch as A and B talk outside, and there is communication there and surprises are prefaced and groundwork is lain. IF this isn't happening, run for the exits as your senior management is incompetent and your company is in deep doo doo.
  • Too much detail won't help. You should not ever assume that people want to hear everything. Hit the high points, get the approval, and get out the door. If you give too much detail, eyes glaze over and you move on....It just pisses people off an makes them tune you out. If you actually have something to say, then they will miss it as you already put them to sleep and they aren't paying attention any more.
These really tie in to what I had said about presentations, and it is really a lot of follow on to that, but the point is - Public Speaking matters. The more you do it, and the better you get at it, the easier your job is.

Personally, I suck at written stuff but am pretty good at speaking. This was pounded in to me in the field, so I am biased toward encouraging everyone to get in to the field. Customers will beat you up. Learn or die (or intellegently be designed....)

1 comment:

Suhit Anantula said...


Very nice. I have a big presentation tomorrow in my job and it would be useful to remember some of the points you mentioned.