Whether you are just starting out or want to brush up your skills, knowing how to give a successful product presentation is a skill that needs honing and shaping to avoid getting derailed.
Giving a product presentation to your team and key stakeholders isn’t easy. As the product manager, you have to diplomatically convince an entire room of probably very opinionated people, that they should listen to you.
Terrified of taking that big step in front of your entire team? That’s ok, most of us are! We recently hosted a webinar with our Customer Engagement Manager Andrea Saez and Marketing Manger Fleur Hosken (That’s me!)
In the webinar we talked about:
Setting expectations ahead of meeting
How to take control of the conversation
Focusing on problems, not features (and not talking about timelines)
How to continue the conversation post-presentation
It’s always handy to learn some key tips to prepare yourself for a solid product presentation, and during the webinar we got asked some awesome questions. We’ve got the full transcript below, let’s dive in:
Q: How did you deal with that CEO in your anecdote? Did they truly ever understand the customer pain points and the problems the product was solving? What actions did you take to bring that change about?
Awesome question. After speaking with the project manager, I did ask him to clarify what it is the product actually did, because as it turns out they had two different products that worked together, not just one single product as I initially understood. My first reaction after hearing all of it was, So why don’t you just combine them into one?
And this guy, his eyes just lit up and he looked at me and said, OMG why didn’t we think of that?
Lucky for me, my journey with that company ended 3 days later, because Janna (CEO of ProdPad) ended up offering me a job a few days later. So sadly there wasn’t much I could do, but I did leave the project manager with some feedback as to things he could do, and hopefully they did end up combining these two products into a single offering just to make it a better situation for everyone. I don’t know what happened after that. Part of me wishes I had stayed to help them, but part of me is glad I didn’t.
Q: What do I do when people ask me a question I don’t know the answer to?
Be honest. Say that you don’t have the answer to the question, but write it down and let them know you will follow up. Most importantly, do actually follow up! Go find the answer to the question, maybe get the person involved who helped you out, cc them on an email, and make sure you get back to the person about it. It’s totally ok for you not to know, just make sure you do follow up.
Q: How’s Janna?
Janna is great! I’ve seen her for the first time today in like a week. For anyone in NYC, she’ll be there next week so if you’d like to catch up, let us know and we’ll put you in touch!
Q: What do I do if people start going on tangents? What’s a good way of pulling it around without being mean?
Honestly, sometimes you do have to be a little bit mean I think. I think just kindly remind people that the things they are bringing up are better posed in another meeting or a different situation. Try to bring it back to what you’re actually talking about. It is very, very easy to go into a tangent.
What we like to do at ProdPad is ask: What problem are you trying to solve by discussing this right now?
More often than not we’ll find ourselves, when someone asks that question, that we are actually going off on a tangent. So if you want to do it kindly, just ask the question. It kinda seems like the discussion might be better for later. And again, make sure that you create that time and that space to talk about these other issues.
Q: (Question from our host, Fleur!)
I know that as a marketer, I annoy product managers, and normally everyone else in the team. How often would you say is the right amount to have meetings with the team to show them the vision, so that you don’t have the opportunity for these tangents to happen, so people like me don’t start asking questions like, what about this thing that’s come up and I can do an amazing campaign about!? But I need dev resources to do these things.
Now we’re having a team discussion in front of everyone! How embarrassing. That is actually an awesome question though.
I think it’s important to always be having these discussions in general. And if dev resources are needed in one way or another, make sure that you highlight why. I think where a lot of teams fail is that, let’s say Sales, Marketing, or Support might need assistance, but they’re not really saying what the problem is or what the benefit of that project might be, they just expect the help to be there.
Having been a PM myself and working really closely with developers, I know that a lot of devs don’t get to understand that human side or that business side of things, as to why things are important or how it would benefit the business. They’re just there building stuff. So creating that human connection is really important.
As to how often? How often do we do it here, like at least every 2 or 3 months? We sit down as a team and just make sure that we’re reviewing. Things change really, really quickly at ProdPad. I don’t know if you guys are away, but we release twice a week. Which is very fast. And so our roadmap is constantly being updated and constantly changing. And me as Customer Experience/Success working so closely with Product and also Marketing, we have to make sure that all of our objectives are aligned.
We’ve actually recently done this by combining our roadmaps and making sure instead of having separate roadmaps we have a single roadmap that we’re all using and working towards the same objectives, as opposed to having one roadmap for the product, another for CS, another for Sales, another for Marketing.
Making sure your objectives are aligned and constantly talking about it, getting everyone involved and making sure there’s that human connection between PeopleOps and DevOps is really important.
Q: Can you suggest a practical and visual activity to align and rally senior stakeholders behind the product vision and roadmap (those removed from the day-to-day activities of the product team)?
Absolutely! We have something called the Product Tree game. I’ll try to summarize it really quickly:
Try to get your team in a room. If your entire team is too much, try to get some key stakeholders for each team to make sure everyone’s represented. Get everyone to write down on a post it note what features and objectives they’d like to see the team work on, and place them on the tree.
The trunk represents items that are imminent and have to be done now, and as they branch out those items are less important. Now here’s where it gets kinda tricky though, eventually some people will want certain items before others, but they have to discuss as a team where things will go. At some point you’ll have to sacrifice certain things over others and reprioritize because you can’t fit everything into a single space. This takes team communication and cooperation, so you get everyone involved in this discussion.
Q: In the B2B world, the person paying for your product is often not the person using it. Do you have any ideas on how we can keep both camps aligned?
Oh dear… There’s a lot of follow up questions that come to mind after that, like do you have any exposure to those end users? Is that feedback coming to you silo’d or directly to you? I think what would definitely help is having those different persona types and understanding those persona types.
Maybe regardless of how you get that feedback, have an understanding of those different types of personas so that when you are building towards those objectives, you have that balanced work between your users and your users’ users. We do that internally, we have quite a few personas that we’ve set up and they help us do everything from marketing campaigns, to pages, to building the app. I think that’s a place where personas would come in really handy.
I think I have a little bit to add to that as well. In quite a few roles in the past I’ve worked in a B2B2C situation, so I found myself working a lot of the time with the product managers. I actually went to South Korea for 10 days and worked with them on what would be the marketing perspective of building personas so that from the get go it was built in for the sales team, for the marketing team – so that was quite useful internally. And also just making sure you get the feedback from your sales team, from your marketing team, to whomever people are responding to directly, and understanding where the friction might be there. Quite a lot of the time you don’t really need to pivot the feature, it’s just how you talk about it so that people are more willing to open their purses. So that’s my two cents on that!
Q: How do you manage motivation of dev team with changing priorities and keep the focus?
I don’t manage the dev team myself but I can definitely talk about some of my experience with the team here.
We actually just got back from an off-site, where we all had to present and run meetings, and of course everyone gets nervous from time to time having to speak to a room of people, people go off on tangents so on and so forth. It’s been really interesting to be able to give this presentation after that experience. I think it’s really important to get everyone involved in the product tree game, it’s important to share your roadmap and vision and make sure everyone’s aligned towards goals and objectives.
It’s important to get everyone involved. This is what we did, we got everyone involved and asking questions and discussing things like onboarding, marketing, etc – and not just what but why this is important. And everyone had a chance to pitch in and talk about their experiences and share with the rest of the team. And at the end of the day this is just gonna help you build a better product!
Q: It is very interesting how ProdPad is focussing on building a B2B community using Webinars and Slack (a topic which was also presented in a prev. webinar).
How are you guys brainstorming new ideas reg. this topic (community) and coming up topics for Webinars series?
We mostly just talk to people!
The other way, which I talked about in the beginning, is make sure you’re sharing your product vision, the items you’re doing and objectives you’re working towards.
When we kicked off this year and Fleur was officially already onboard, we made the decision that everything we did would link back to what the product was doing. So if there is a new feature, we make sure we talk about it during onboarding, in the community, in marketing, in a blog post, prepare a webinar, etc.
All of our efforts will align with the product. This has massively changed things for us. When we talked about JIRA we made sure we had a webinar and a blog post, a newsletter, etc. Same with Slack. All these things align with each other, and that helps our team ensure that we’re working towards the same thing and reaching those same goals. We don’t work as separate teams, but as a single team together from different aspects.
I completely agree. I think it’s also really nice to share how we do things. We all want to Google How to do this… So if there’s a webinar that we can do to help people share what we’ve learned, whether it’s potential mistakes or lessons learned, that’s what we like to share!
Q: How do you adjust product vision for the reality of developers? A high-level roadmap often makes it easy to forget about all the internal implementation difficulties that make certain things hard to do, or easier in a certain order, or simply have unclear difficulty status at this point in time?
Great question. We could talk about this for quite a while…. So check this space, you may just have given us a new blog post or webinar idea!
Fleur is a Senior Marketing Manager at ProdPad. She likes pom-poms, claims to not like chocolate but always has Toblerone on her desk and loves make-up and fun facts on a Friday. She made the national newspapers as a toddler for getting her head stuck in a cat flap.