A big part of building a career at a company is showcasing your work and it's impact on the company's goals. Communicating your ideas, making stakeholders aware of what you are working and making them updated on your progress and seeking feedback along the way is part of the responsibilities of your role. The best way to do it is to do presentations, or even better, prepare demos, a working proof of concept that people can touch and play with.
So, what makes a good presentation? Metrics and demos. Metrics because numbers are the best proof of work. You need to tie them to the company's goals of course. The best number is revenue, but any other metrics like user engagement, application performance metrics, cost effeciency metrics, build time metrics, there are a lot of numbers you can use. For example, instead of saying, I replaced build system x with y, say that you cut down build times by 400% or I cleaned up a lot of code by replacing it with a library, say it as reduced the amount of code we maintain by x lines or y%
It is important to do this exercise with your manager, so you and your manager have a shared understanding of the what and why of your work. This ensures that your manager has the talking points to explain your role and impact in the company when someone asks. It also ensures that you are working on something important, not just chores or mundane work which will not help you grow in your career, technically or financially.
Presentations do a few different things
- They connect your name and face with a product for the rest of the organization and you would be the person they will reach out to for questions
- It signals that you are interested in the topic or have thought about it, so if anything related comes up, your name will pop up in people's mind
- It makes you think deeply about the work you are doing and articulate why it's important and how it fits within the company's priorities
- It opens you up for feedback, and feedback from a diverse group of people is almost always guaranteed to improve the end result of whatever you are working on
- It builds your confidence, improves your communication and marketing skills and also helps make connections in the company
- At the end of the year, your performance review will write itself
Presentations are the best way to scale the distribution of your ideas, get feedback and grow your influence within an organization. It puts you in the arena in the company, making things happen and not just be an observer. If you are afraid of criticism or questions, don't be. There are presentations happening all the time in the company. The product team has to present it's roadmap to customers and to the sales teams and get their feedback, the CEO has to present a vision of the company to the board. To do anything meaningful in the world, you have to be able to present your ideas and get feedback. Try something bold, put yourself out there, create controversies and engage with your detractors. It is the fastest and the best way to grow your career in an organization.