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Embrace written narratives, ban powerpoints
The one thing that made me a better PM: using written narratives (documents) instead of slide presentations.
Jeff Bezos was (and is) 100% right 👇
Most PMs underinvest in their “thinking time”. You’re constantly in-between meetings, gap-filling wherever you‘re needed, and building Powerpoint decks to explain something, to someone. And probably you’re making double shifts writing JIRA tickets, covering Slack threads, prototyping some lame sketches to explain in a planning, and whatnot. “Thinking” always seems to take a back seat.
I’m super honest: this used to be my life. Until two really strong PMs (Júlio and Francisco) shared their “write to think” philosophy: write to understand, and you’ll be understood. One example were presentations (something PMs have to do extensively), when turned into written format became a great excuse to simply lock more thinking time.
Here’s what I realised when I started going all in into narratives:
- Decks made me lazy. It focused me on the “headlines” and not the details.
- Decks made me spend >50% on aesthetics, instead of connections.
- Decks made me rely on “winging it” with my speech and presence.
- Decks didn’t invite to thoughtful commentary, and if you’re a good presenter, you could convince others of crappy ideas.
- Decks made the conversation unilateral, instead of collaborative.
All of these ☝️deeply reduce the quality of your own strategic decisions as a PM. They do make your life easier, but they don’t make you more effective at building what solves your customers problems.
After a bit into narratives, this happens with those around me:
- Narratives 10x’d collaborative discussion. People left A LOT of comments. Especially engineers (it felt like reviewing code).
- Narratives invited depth but syntax. I couldn’t write too much, but it covered way more edge cases. And the comments added 100s more.
- Narratives filtered out those who didn’t care enough (they gave up on reading and writing). The best products are built by those who care more.
- The amount of content that could be consumed while presenting and reading a narrative was 5x more vs a deck.
“Half-naked thinking was harder to disguise on the written page than in the PowerPoint” - Working Backwords
Get rid of decks, embrace written narratives. Slowly, but surely, it will transform your (and those around's) execution.
PS: going from decks to narratives is like taking sugar out of coffee. Weird in the first week, but after a while you can’t see yourself going back.
PPS: start with Notion as it’s quite dynamic, reduces the shock and frill to fit the content as you were used to at decks.