Is this a Slide Deck or an Owner's Manual?


I was recently leading my 2 Day Comprehensive Presentation Skills Workshop for a group of super smart tech folk on how to organize and effectively present. 

One participant opened up a deck that he planned to deliver to senior management to get buy-in for a global project to fund some very outdated hardware.
There were pages and pages of dense 8pt text.

Based on the best practices we’d just reviewed, he felt embarrassed about it and agreed that it needed work.
So I asked, “What was the intention of this deck when you created it?
He said it was to send out to his engineering team to execute this complex, massive, global hardware upgrade.
"Sort of like an owners manual for how this whole global project will be executed?"
“If your goal is to send this out to engineers as reference material, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. It's important to have detailed documentation that includes everything required to carry out this very complex job.
But if you stand up and deliver every detail of this deck to senior managers (or to anyone for that matter), they’re going to be overwhelmed and wonder what you want them to do with all this."
So, first, we identified what these senior managers cared about. That was easy - saving time and money.  

Next, we clarified what we're asking of them. That was also easy - to approve funding for this new hardware.
Finally, we organized the structure of the deck around three major points that spoke to how they would save time, money & resources. We kept it to one concept per slide. 

The result was clear, to the point, and based on what THEY cared about, not what engineers needed to know about the project roll out.