Presentations and effective communication in the age of Slack

10 January 2021

Presentations are sometimes inadequate ways to communicate information. Introducing information for the first time verbally and without a shared written component is a missed opportunity for clarity. If you ever lost focus during an internal presentation from a coworker or given a presentation only to have some people forget key details, this might be obvious to you. There are a few easy ways to make improvements, which tie back to an old adage I learned for presentations themselves.

Tell the audience what you are going to say, say it, then tell the audience what you told them. This same principle can apply to the presentation format itself:

  1. Tell the audience what you are going to say: Send out the slides before the presentation
  2. Say it: Do the presentation
  3. Tell the audience what you told them: Follow up on Slack and re-share the slides

A presentation is generally one-way information sharing, which is a bit of a waste when the presenter and audience have to synchronize their calendars to be together. Sharing information beforehand gives the audience some time to digest the information and come up with questions, which can lead to more two-way questions during the presentation instead of just one-way communication. Following up with something in writing gives a canonical place for the audience to refer to for important details after the presentation.

This is just a small tip for verbal presentations, there are some good resources on general remote communication with Slack that are out of scope, but I recommend taking a look at: