Monday, May 11, 2009

Communications can be more effective with less use of emails, ppts, etc.

My blogger friend Ramesh talks about the dark side of Power Point here, here and here in his blog 'Business Musings'. Later, he recommends a recipe for a power pointless, but effective presentation here. I find the topic interesting and want to expand the topic a little bit here. Many of us (if not all) unknowingly have done some ineffective and inefficient business communications to some extent.

Two weeks ago, I received a call from a friend who is a general manager of a PR company. He told me that his company were going to pitch to a well known French multinational company for a big project in Beijing. He asked me if I could do him a favor to translate his power point slides and do a presentation on behalf of his company to the top executives of the French company. 'In English?', I asked. 'Yes, they speak English', he confirmed. Great, my French is good enough only for aliens to understand. So, out of curiosity I agreed to do the favor (for free). When I received the PPT slides I was shocked. They put together 108 slides which were expected to be presented in about 20 minutes! And the worse was that they put too many paragraphs of Chinese in the slides. I took me an ENTIRE day to translate! Also, I noticed that it was the 12th version of the presentation. I thought the ppt presentation was not viewer friendly, and said that by no means could I finish the presentation in 20 minutes. Then they reduced the ppt to 91 slides. On a Friday afternoon, I did the presentation in front of the senior French executives and the feedback was good. But you know what? As I previously warned, I did not cover every paragraph of text they put on the slides. Anyway, my friend was very satisfied with my presentation. Later, I learned they spent about 2 weeks drafting and revising the ppt. What annoyed me most was that they put so much unnecessary information on the slides to window-dress and make it look 'more professional', which in my opinion was the opposite of effective communication.

If you can communicate a message face-to-face to a fellow worker in 5 minutes, why do you bother to spend 20 minutes writing an email to him/her even if he/she is sitting 3 meters away from you? Once I was asked by a country manager to send him an email to brief him on a meeting I had with a business partner. I did so in the evening. The next morning, he came into the office holding his blackberry and said to me, 'Hang, I got your email. It's a bit long and I haven't read it. Can you come and brief me in my office?' See? Even a reader may become fed up with emails. As a matter of fact, the message could be effectively communicated on phone or face to face in 5 minutes.

I've mentioned in my previous post that the newly appointed CEO of Eachnet (Ebay China), Wang Leilei (王雷雷) once criticized the staff in Eachnet for their excessive use of emails and ppts, which he thought was less straightforward and a bad habit.

Sometimes, we relies too much on emails and ppts for 'effective' communication. Communications can be simple and effective too!

9 comments:

Thomas said...

Yep, the extent of PowerPoint usage in most MNCs is ridiculous.

Hang said...

Right, business communications really need to be improved.

Ramesh said...

Thanks for linking me Hang. I completely agree - lesser the e mail , greater the communication ! There is nothing more ridiculous than e mailing somebody sitting next to you !

J said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog - great photos of Yunnan. That's the one area I really regret not having time/money to see while I'm here.

Hang said...

Ramesh - I agree. Unfortunately, the ridiculous happens too often nowadays.

J - Yunnan is beautiful.You should go and visit sometime. Please try to avoid any long public holidays. Too many tourists may spoil your trip.

Denise said...

Hello, very interesting post, I enjoyed my visit here. Thank you very much for stopping by my blog.

Hang said...

Denise - Thanks a lot for your nice comment.

FOARP said...

Working at Foxconn was just like this. We had a MSN-a-like communication system which everyone used even if they were in the cubicle next to me, I would often get phone calls from people who were sitting so close to me that I could hear what they were saying without using the phone. Powerpoint was another thing, everyone should know that text-wise PPT is only good for listing bulletpoints, statistics etc. The main content of the presentation whould be in what you say, but too many people do not obey this, and it makes for uninteresting meetings.

Hang said...

FOARP - Well said!