“I’ll Send You the Deck”

Warning, this is a rant!

I’m sure we’ve all been here. You’re in a meeting or on a conference call or just having a conversation with a colleague discussing some interesting idea or proposal which he or she has previous experience of and at some point they issue the immortal words “I’ll send you the deck”. The “deck” in question is usually a (at least) 20 page presentation, maybe with lots of diagrams so quite large, of material some of which may, if you’re lucky, relate to what you were actually talking about but most of which won’t. Now, I’m not sure about you but I find this hugely annoying for several reasons. Here are some:

  1. A presentation is for, well presenting. It’s not for relaying information after the event with no speaker to justify its existence. That’s what documents are for. We need to make careful decisions about the tools we use for conveying information recognising that the choice of tool can equally well enhance as well as detract from the information being presented.
  2. Sending a presentation in an email just clogs up your inbox with useless megabytes of data. Not only that but you are then left with the dilemma of what to do with the presentation. Do you detach it and store it somewhere in the hope you will find it later or just leave it in the email to ultimately get lost or forgotten?
  3. Chances are that only a small part of the presentation is actually relevant to what was been discussed so you are left trying to find out what part of the presentation is important and what is largely irrelevant.

So, what is the alternative to “sending a deck”? In this age of social the alternatives are almost too overwhelming but here are a few.

  • If your presentation contains just a few core ideas then take the time to extract the relevant ones and place in the email itself.
  • If the information is actually elsewhere on the internet (or your company intranet) then send a link. If it’s not commercially sensitive and available externally to your organisation why not use Twitter? That way you can also socialize the message more widely.
  • Maybe the content you need to send is actually worth creating as a blog post for a wider, and more permanent distribution (I actually create a lot of my posts like that).
  • Many large organisations are now investing in enterprise social software. Technology such as IBM Connections provides on premise, hybrid and in the cloud based software that not only seamlessly integrates email, instant messaging, blogs, wikis and files but also delivers the information to virtually any mobile device. Enterprise social software allows people to share content and collaborate in new and more creative ways and avoids the loss of information in the ‘tar pits‘ of our hard drives and mail inboxes.

Finally, here’s the last word from Dilbert, who is spot on the money as usual.

Dilbert PowerPoint

(c) 2010 Scott Adams Inc