Saturday, November 18, 2006

I Feel Shitty - Presentation Hell

The title to this blog is to be accompanied by a melody from the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim's song, "I Feel Pretty." (West Side Story)

It started with that scratchy, dry feeling in the back of my mouth and grew into the sore throat that won't let you sleep through the night. By Thursday morning, I was rasping and gasping instead of speaking. On Monday, I'm supposed to pitch to a venture firm - one in which I happen to be a limited partner. If my speaking voice doesn't improve by then, it's going to be a very long and painful presentation.

It's interesting to think how completely subjective and inwardly focused most of us become when we're sick. It colors our experience of the world. But it doesn't just feel like "our experience" of the world is crummy. It feels like the world itself is crummy.

I spent a good portion of Friday afternoon going over the presentation with members of my senior management team. There are a couple of good reasons to do this. First, they each have a deeper connection than I do to certain specialized information that can be helpful to the pitch. Second, they pay more attention to the way that strategy and tactics are connected and the way the long term vision for the company is connected to specific milestones. But the real reason to do these presentations with the entire team - and I'm speaking here only about the early stages of a company - is to make certain everyone on the senior management team is playing the same game. And that each of us has his or her head in the game.

And now, it's time for a mini rant. I hate Powerpoint. I haven't been CEO of a tech company for more than five years now. And you know what: this frickin application hasn't improved in any material way in five years! This is how Microsoft is going to get it's head handed to it. Web-based apps - Ajax implementations and widgets of the sort that Google, Yahoo and others are deploying - are eventually going to displace the old MS Office suite. I spent an hour or so on Thursday editing the PPT pitch on my MacBook Pro. I sent it along to the team. On Friday, I opened the application, and all kinds of things in the application had changed. Things that had been transparent and without borders managed, somehow, to become opaque and grow lovely black lines around them. And this happened randomly throughout the presentation. I hate to spend even five minutes cleaning up garbage that

1 comment:

John Q. Public said...

Tom -- I really hope you don't believe the hype that Ajax will replace the Office suite or presentation software.

Also, enough with the complaints about problems with PowerPoint. It's old hat and sounds too much like whining. We'd much rather hear about your experiences starting a new company.