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Adding presentations to your BA toolkit

Lee, MorganProjects can be improved with better communication techniques.
As a business analyst, I have had to present on a number of topics including:
Business and User Requirements;
Software Evaluations;
New process ideas;
Recommendations; and
Templates and documents; etc.

A presentation is another tool to add to your BA toolkit. One technique I like to use is to treat my presentation like a project. This can include a planning, analysis, development, testing, and delivery phase.

1. Planning – Define your presentation objectives. Asking questions can help.
What is the purpose of the presentation, Is it to discover, brainstorm, sell, inform, or persuade the stakeholder?  What do you want the stakeholders to do as a result of the presentation, Do you want them to learn, acknowledge, or perform an action item?
What do you want to say and how do you want to deliver it?  How long will it take, Who should I invite, and should I use a white board or video presentation?

2. Analysis – Understand your topic, get to know your audience and find a way to connect the two.  Try and find out who will be attending.  Are the stakeholders technical or Management people?  Do they understand the details or just want high level information?  How will they use this information?  Try and find out what the stakeholders are expecting to hear, learn, discuss, or avoid?

3. Development – Design a presentation that matches your stakeholders. You may need to prepare different presentations based on different stakeholder groups. Determine when you will ask questions or engage the audience. Pick a presentation format that is appropriate for the stakeholders and environment you are in. Open with a story or fact that will get their attention. Describe what the presentation is about, Consider adding an executive summary at the beginning and then discuss the information to backup your findings. At the end, recap the information and assign an action item. Give the stakeholders a purpose for them being there.

4. Testing – Practice your presentation as much as you can in an environment as close to the real thing. Try and use the same equipment and props that you will use during the presentation. Create a list of questions that you think the stakeholders might ask and say the answers out loud to see if it sounds good. You can record yourself and play it back to help identify your strengths and weaknesses.

5. Delivery – Be prepared. Take your time and try to interact with the audience. Maintain good eye contact.  Answer questions when you know the answer and offer to find out when you don’t or find someone that will (ask the audience if they know the answer). Try and read the body language of the audience to see if your topic is keeping them engaged. “Switch things up”. Get feedback after the presentation and use that feedback to help you improve on the next project (presentation).

There are many ways to present and some techniques are more effective than others.
Plan your presentation, Analyze who be attending, Develop the presentation based on your audience, Test the presentation much as you can, and use your BA skills to deliver the best presentation you can.

Try different techniques and find what works best for you. Good luck.

Posted in 5 Things, Article, Business Analyst, Questions, Tools.

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