Updated: May 26, 2022
A project of any significant size will more than likely have a steering committee made up of various executives from both the customer and the vendor sides. The purpose of the steering committee is to provide guidance and support to the project team in the way of decisions and approvals regarding issues around keeping the project moving forward. It’s usually the duty of the project manager to prepare for and lead the steering committee discussions which includes (normally) creating a brief presentation. Here are some tips to build an effective steering committee presentation.
Presentable in 30 Minutes or Less
Remember that the executives in your steering committee are probably very busy and likely will not have a lot of time to dedicate to steering committee meetings and as such are usually very appreciative of having a brief presentation with the remainder of the time left for discussion on critical issues. My rule of thumb is that the content to be presented should not exceed 30 minutes. If your content is longer than 30 minutes then you have one of two problems – your slide deck is not concise enough or your project has many more issues to discuss.
Stay Out of the Weeds
This point coincides with the previous point of 30 minutes or less. Keep in mind that your steering committee is not made up of project managers and should not be relied on to provide decisions on rudimentary project details. By following this rule, it will also aid in keeping your presentations targeted at the key issues that you need steering committee guidance on.
Ask for Approvals, Not Ideas
This is a common mistake with more junior project managers who may not be used to working with a steering committee. Remember that your steering committee is not made up of project managers and are looking to you to provide ideas that they can say yes or no to. For example, say you are faced with a situation where you need to either add additional resources (i.e. cost) to a project in order to keep your go live date intact. Instead of asking your steering committee “what do you want us to do”, you should present it in a way that says “here are the two options, the associated costs, the schedule impacts and any other project impacts” and let your steering committee give you an informed decision.
Steering committee meetings can seem intimidating but it’s important to remember that they exist to ensure the success of the project by providing decisions and support to the project management team. Your job as a project manager is to provide the ideas and associated impacts and let the steering committee help with the decisions.