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Best presentation courses for product managers?

Some of my PM employees could use a very good course in how to create and deliver effective presentations. What courses have you taken and do you strongly recommend? What I have in mind is for-pay courses run by firms that specialize in this area that a student would attend live. Virtual or physical courses are okay.

Many of my employees have difficulty constructing a meaningful presentation. Storytelling ability and presentation structure and slide fit-and-finish are problems. A few have difficulty in the delivery. They seem hesitant and unconfident, use too many words, say Um and Uh a ton. They should know the material as it’s often a summary of their area of responsibility.

I’ve done tons of presentations and am often used as a go-to for construction and delivery with senior execs and large audiences. I give people lots of on-the-job feedback. But my company has a lot of training budget, it’s not a big deal to drop a few thousand dollars on a course, and I like people to get out of their element. I have noticed that many PMs in this forum seem to have never taken a job-related course before, which seems very strange to me.

Our response

Author: Joe Tannorella
Rocket Role Team
Out of interest, what is the reason you think they could use a good course? Do they share similar issues in presenting, is it lack of storytelling ability, lack of stage presence, etc.?

The reason I ask is that I think sometimes about speaker/topic fit... The reality is that people are better at talking about topics they're either super passionate about or super knowledgeable about. Do you feel they know the topic well enough? Or perhaps they're not talking about the topic in a way that makes sense to their audience?

In the past I've had some success in preparing folks for me to give them feedback after they present, and then giving them so quality constructive feedback. You can also set a team goal to provide some accountability. The next question then is how do you know if your team are getting better at presenting, which is interesting. Do you get any external feedback from colleagues about their ability to present?

I listened to an awesome podcast episode a while back with Lenny which gave some super actionable advice. This one -

Here are some things you can do without needing to pay for a course:

- Ask your PMs to rehearse on their own in advance of their actual presentation. People who are new to presenting (or even some people who have been doing it for years) don't realize that good presenters will rehearse multiple times to get it right.

- Ask your PMs to rehearse with you in advance of their actual presentation, followed by a critique. Start the critique by asking the presenter what they thought they did well, or would have wanted to do differently. This step is key for inviting both self-reflection, and opening the door for you to provide constructive feedback.

- Have your PMs rehearse their presentation to the rest of the PM team (or a subset), followed by a critique, again starting with the presenter as the first person to provide feedback, and then opening it up to the rest of the team. This will also help the rest of the team learn what works well (and doesn't) in a successful presentation. Everyone knows whether a presentation was good or not, but it's not until you really understand why one presentation was effective or not that you can really begin to improve. And getting feedback from their peers removes some of the critique burden from you as their manager/superior.

We also asked some experts...

Advice from thousands of podcasts episodes, including:
Here's what they had to say:

🎙️ Leverage Pre-Presentation Feedback
Melissa Tan from Webflow suggests giving candidates feedback before they present, setting them up for success. This approach can be applied to your PMs as well. By providing feedback before the actual presentation, you can guide them on what needs to be improved, thus boosting their confidence and effectiveness.

Try this: Schedule a pre-presentation feedback session with your PMs.
Source: Building High Performing Teams: Melissa Tan – Lenny's podcast

📈 Coach PMs Before the Meeting
According to Casey Winters from Eventbrite, coaching PMs before the meeting is the best approach. Instead of a big reveal in the meeting, the aim should be to de-risk the meeting. This can be achieved by running through the presentation with the team, anticipating questions, and weaving the answers into the presentation.

Try this: Run a mock presentation with your PMs and role-play as the audience.
Source: How to Sell Your Ideas and Rise Within Your Company: Casey Winters – Lenny's podcast

🎤 Hire a Speaker Coach
Janna Bastow from Mind the Product shares her experience of working with a speaker coach. The coach helped her improve her talk, from enhancing jokes to perfecting delivery and phrasing. This could be a valuable investment for your PMs who need help with their presentation skills.

Try this: Consider hiring a speaker coach for your PMs.
Source: Building Better Product Roadmaps: Janna Bastow – Lenny's podcast

Closing Summary

To improve your PMs' presentation skills, consider scheduling pre-presentation feedback sessions, coaching them before meetings, and possibly hiring a speaker coach. These strategies can help them become more confident and effective in their presentations.

All "ask an expert content" does not represent the views of any expert or individual. All provided links are not affiliated or operated by Rocket Role.

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