When presenting your results for your continuous improvement efforts be aware of your audience and what they are interested in. I have had presentations for leadership to review completed or current projects or to pitch new ones and there are certain criteria that you need to apply for that audience. Now taking this presentation and dropping every other PowerPoint slide so that you can present to a team of plant managers or supply chain professionals doesn’t cut it.

I have tried to avoid that mistake by ensuring that content drives a conversation from the group around me. I have done this in a few ways:

Pose questions, not statements – This way I can better understand the interests of the audience if I have not met with them before

Plant sloppy or at least non-detailed statements in presentation or at least talking points – This helps me gauge the audience at the level of detail as well as gives me some idea of the informal leaders in the group. I get better information and details that I would not have if I tried to be the smartest guy in the room. I found out some of the social dynamics of the group as well.

Tailor to the group – I have been a witness to pulling dollars out of thin air in the presentation only to have the plant manager of the site that has the “savings” ask, “If I saved this much money, why am I upside down on my waste?” Good question. Even when projects or events are driven to GL accounts, there can be so much padding and assumptions that the time of project morphs and the payback withers. Or spending increases in another area. Sweet! Sign me up for another Kaizen, pronto!

What does the audience care about?

Most admin / back office projects I have been involved with had leadership concerned about cost per transaction but to the departments they may be focused on why do I do this or why is our software batch information before I can do the next process?

In operations, corporate may want GL accounts and P&L spend but what I have seen Plant Managers get excited about is Cost per Unit or waste per unit or something more tangible to them. This gives them the opportunity not only to see and deal with their world but also explain it to the rest of their staff and employees. What kind of conversation do you have when you talk to partners / employees about absorption costs and variances? Now have that conversation about yesterday, these widget cost a dollar last month but after your hard work and determination, it costs ninety-five cents. Multiply that by 400,000 units per day and you have saved the business $20K per day.

Now I would rather work on the demand side of this process but the point is that cut and pasting a presentation depending on the audience usually gets some confused, some di-interested and you miss out on a great opportunity to impact the group.