Earlier this week I gave a short talk to a group of colleagues about a project that I led a few months ago. Public speaking always makes me nervous, though somehow it usually turns out OK. This time instead of blasting through a hastily abridged reenactment of the two-hour final project briefing, I tried doing a meta-briefing — a talk about how to give a good talk, with the project as a case study. I sketched out how the briefing was developed and organized, quoted astrophysicist Chandrasekhar and statistician Tufte, emphasized the importance of revealing the Bottom Line Up Front ("BLUF"), and pointed out the value of concluding with high-level next-steps. As my own meta-bottom-line, I began by offering a four-word bumper-sticker mantra to remember:
|Know Your Customer's Customer|
That is, don't just study the direct sponsors who are paying for a job, but also analyze the driving forces behind their project and the people who will be served downstream. That way, whatever you do can be useful in the largest possible realm, even if your immediate customers themselves don't know the bigger picture.
And yeah, in spite of my nervousness the talk turned out ok. And it resulted in a meta-meta zhurnaly entry!