How To Do Good Product Manager Roadmap Presentations

How to do product manager roadmap presentations
How to do product manager roadmap presentations

The secret of how to do good product manager presentations is simple:  Tell a good story.

The end.

You can go read something else now.

Just messin’ with ya, anyone can learn how to do good product manager presentations if you follow a bit of advice.

Tip 1: ABS - Always Be Story Telling

Product Manager Roadmap Presentations And Storyelling
If you can read a bed time story to a 5 year old, you know how to do good product manager roadmap presentations

The purpose of every communication is to exert influence (to persuade, to inspire, to change attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, and behavior)

Kendall Haven
Don’t take my word for the importance of story telling (I’m probably pretty crappy at it to be honest), take Kendall’s. He’s worked in the messaging and communications field for about 30 years, including  a stint at Stanford as a distinguished visiting scholar and has expertise in story science, neural story research, and storytelling, so if a guy like this is telling you to tell stories when you present, who am I to tell you anything different. Using an appropriate story adds context to your product roadmap presentation that the graphical representation of your roadmap lacks Tell the story of how the roadmap came together. Consider weaving some of these points into your storyline
  • What was the inspiration for its direction (If you are crafty, you’ll work in giving credit to the person who does your annual performance appraisal).
  • How does it contribute to the overall corporate vision.
  • Was there any internal drama involving difficult decisions.
…and remember to sprinkle some data fairy dust throughout.

Tip 2: Make Sure The Data Fairy Pays A Visit

Schedule a visit with the data fairy before doing a roadmap presenation
Anyone who knows how to do good product manager roadmap presentations knows they need a visit from the data fairy.

While the truth is your company probably doesn’t have a data fairy, you probably have a neckbeard or someone named “Jim”, “Sarah” or “Amar” who handles analytics and data for your company that you can reach out to to get some some meaningful metrics and analytics to back up your story, because remember…..

Product roadmap presentations need data
Remember to anchor your arguments in data

If you are having a pissing fight with members of the executive team around roadmap priorities need to focus your team on priorities in the roadmap, remember to back them up with data (and use the lack of data associated with the pet project of other executives to undermine those) as it is an objective measure on which you can make a decision.

Assuming you did more than putting a finger in the air when making decisions as to what earned a spot on the roadmap, be sure to include the same metrics in your story narrative. 

Knowing how to do good product manager roadmap presentations also includes having the common sense to use metrics in order to connect the product roadmap with corporate strategy. If your organization manages to pay your salary, it is safe to assume there are some success metrics/KPIs they are using, so make sure to highlight them in your product roadmap presentation.

If it’s not clear how roadmap initiatives influence key metrics, you need to do one of  two things:

  • Find another line of work.
  • Keep reading this article on how to do good product manager roadmap presentations and hope you figure it out.

Using data is the easiest way to sell your story, stop working so hard for a change and take the easy way out. 

Tip 3: Figure Out Who You Are Talking To

When crafting your product roadmap presentation, remember the The Average Salary Rule from the Ten Commandments of Product Management, which I’ll quote here to save you the time and effort of clicking through:

The higher the average salary of the audience in any room, the less anyone really cares about the details of what you do. This means that if you want to connect with these people, the more you should talk in high level vision type language and the less you should mention details. Details and practicalities are things only those on the low end of the salary totem pole need to concern themselves with.

Product Guy

If you need a hand interpreting the above advice, you need to tailor your presentation to your audience. The higher on the salary scale your audience is, the more you should focus on high level themes, concepts and strategy. The more your audience subsists on a diet of Mountain Dew, Doritos and Soylent, the more you should dive into the details.

 

Dont put your audience to sleep
Product roadmap presentations should not put your audience to sleep.
If you need it spelled out further, focus your roadmap presentations on sharing the most relevant information for that particular audience. Your presentation should not be consider a sleep aid.

Tip 4: Themes, Themes and More Themes

If there is one theme you should take take away from this blog is that you should always talk in themes when discussing the product roadmap

Good product manager roadmap presentations group roadmap items into themes to highlight the bigger picture. Save the grocery list of product features and initiatives for your internal product management meetings. 

 

Tip 5: Know How To Make A Slide Deck

In general, presentations have been so poorly done, that people like Jeff Bezo and Elon Musk banned powerpoint presentations as they allow for mental laziness when it comes to presenting your ideas.

Having said that you need to show a visual representation of your product roadmap as the audience needs to see how it fits with the over all product strategy.

Your goal is to build your slide deck with the intent of them being an aid to the conversation, not the focal point of the presentation, so keep these points in mind when crafting the deck

  • Use a theme.  Black on white doesn’t cut it anymore
  • Use color to distinguish between different roadmap themes, objectives, and categories.
  • Order the slides in such a way that it supports your story.
  • Use different versions of the roadmap for different audiences.  Remember there are numerous popular roadmap styles choose from, each with a specific communication objective.
  • Don’t overwhelm audience with too many details.; it should only contain the most relevant information. 
  • Less than 5 slides.
  • If you have a lot of details to cover, distribute a well structured memo that cover them.

 

 

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