141: Russ Meek On (Over) Simplifying A Business Presentation

141: Russ Meek On (Over) Simplifying A Business Presentation

Russ Meek on (over) simplifying a business presentation

My guest on this episode is Russ Meek, a product manager in the travel and hospitality industry. For many years he was with Sabre Corporation, focusing on Hotel Property Management.

After several years of working on a very successful product line there, he volunteered to take on an additional product line. This one had had some challenges, and he wanted to see if he could help it out of its doldrums.

As part of that process, he experienced the story he shares on this podcast. Basically, the product line is a complicated set of offers that differs by geography and partner. The previous team had created “the powerpoint” about the product line and put every bit of detail about the complication into it. And not surprisingly (in retrospect) when they presented this deck, everyone’s eyes glazed over.

So Russ wanted to improve this presentation so it would be engaging, and would help him get commitment to make improvements – while not glossing over challenges.

The approach Russ took to simplification

In our interview Russ talks about how he went about this, the results of having a simplified – he jokingly calls it “over simplified” – presentation, and his thoughts about the process in retrospect.

He reached out to me after a post I did on LinkedIn about business presentations that he felt aligned precisely with what he had done. So I invited him to share that story on the podcast.

Russ is also a long time listener to the podcast. We talked a little bit about how he was introduced to it by one of his mentors, Tom Winrow. Tom was that kind of leader you want, who is always focused on helping the team improve and up-level, including by listening to the pod.

3 things you can start doing today to put the ideas Russ shared into practice

  1. Simplify! We product managers are completists and, as Russ mentioned, we’re afraid that simplifying our data is tantamount to lying. This is not true – and it’s especially not true if we want to engage our audience, who typically does not care about the details the way we do.
  2. Structure your presentation so the audience can follow along, *and* as Russ demonstrated, so you can control the conversation. Russ put the compliance discussion front and center so that he could get it out of the way and actually continue with other topics and not get distracted.
  3. Pre-handle objections. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes, understand what they’re going to a triggered by and what questions they will have, and answer those as part of the presentation. This goes a long way toward keeping them engaged.