“What should we talk about?” “Who should do the talking?” “What kind of graphics should we use?” “How should we arrange the room?” What happens when you have all these questions, and more, while prepping for a presentation? How can you find the best answers for each? Use the Decision Sieve.
The Decision Sieve is a question: “Will it help the listener?” If you filter every decision you make through this one question, you will always get the right answer.
“What should we talk about?” Well, what information will help the listener gain confidence in our team’s understanding and approach to the project?
“Who needs to go to the presentation?” Who is going to help the listener trust in our team’s ability to manage the project?
“What graphics should we use?” What images will best help the listener follow the story?
“How should we arrange the room?” What will help the listener most comfortably see and hear the speaker and graphics?
Guess what! The Decision Sieve not only works in prep; use it as you’re presenting! For instance:
“They just asked me a question that I’m going to get to later. Should I skip through my slides and answer them now, or should I ask them to wait until later?” Well, what will help the listener? Would it be more helpful if I shared that information right now, or will the listener be confused if I don’t lay some foundational concepts first?
“My teammate forgot to cover an important part of our story. Should I jump in now and cover it or wait for Q&A?” What is going to help the listener experience us as a cohesive team? Or, what will help the listener understand the story?
During a presentation, whether you are speaking or not, there should be a little audio loop of “What will help the listener?” running in your head for every moment you are in the room.
Every presentation is different. There are no hard and fast rules as to what is always right or always wrong. The one constant you can rely on, whether in the preparation process or in the moment of presentation, is that if you run every decision you make through that Sieve of “Will it help the listener?”, you can always bank on getting the right answer, the one that best serves your audience.
Got questions? No worries, the Sieve has the answer!