How to Master Product Roadmap Presentations

Giving a product roadmap presentation isn’t easy. To achieve their goals, product managers must diplomatically convince an entire room of opinionated stakeholders to listen to them and support their vision. Oftentimes, it is not a flaw in the product strategy itself that leads to dismissals or pushbacks, but how that strategy is communicated to the audience. This is why PMs pay just as much attention to the way they deliver the roadmap presentation as to the actual information shared with the stakeholders.

Here are a few tips to help beginner product managers ace their presentations:

          1. Consider Your Audience

Understanding the audience and what approach would work best for them is one of the key steps to successful product roadmap presentations. For instance, when communicating the product strategy to executives, the main goal is to secure buy-in and maintain support throughout the development cycle. In this case, the presentation doesn’t need to include every single planned feature, but rather focus on high-level strategic concepts – such as new market penetration, driving growth, or customer satisfaction.

Product Roadmap Audience

On the other hand, the professionals working on product development will probably not be terribly interested in market penetration or the organization’s revenue potential. When presenting to such teams, product managers usually create more granular roadmaps and focus on features, milestones, sprints and releases. In addition, it may be a good choice to include relevant tasks and requirements of other departments, so that the developers understand the importance of certain deadlines or requests.

Granular Product Roadmap

          2. Keep it simple

It can be tempting to add as many details as possible to a roadmap, in an attempt to be thorough and cover all aspects that seem important. However, details such as UI designs or user stories, for instance, do not belong on a roadmap, but in the product backlog, and they can make the presentation too busy and difficult to follow. Excessive or irrelevant information is not likely to secure executive buy-in, and it will not be helpful in inspiring teams either.

          3. Tell a story and explain the “Why”

Persuasive presentations aren’t just statistics, Gantt charts and graphs. They are stories that connect the audience to the key data points and make the information communicated more accessible.

When presenting product roadmaps, adopting a casual, conversational style will allow PMs to draw the audience in while also conveying essential facts. Also, showing executives what the strategy proposed will mean for the organization or explaining how the product can solve a vital problem for the end users will have more impact than just listing features and numbers. When everyone in the room understands the larger strategic vision and reasons behind the product manager’s decisions, they will be much more likely to see the merits of the plan and get behind the project.

          4. Remember that appearance matters

The main purpose of a product roadmap is to visualize the strategy and make it crystal-clear to the audience, whether the presenter is aiming for stakeholder buy-in or communicating plans to the team. If the roadmap is dull, unclear, or, worse, it is just a long list of features displayed on a spreadsheet, it will not take long for the audience to lose interest.

Presenting the plan through a straightforward visual will draw attention and make it easy for everyone to quickly understand what the product manager is proposing. Also, visuals force PMs to be ruthless about which details to include in the roadmap and which to cut out, distilling the plan down to only the most essential points that serve the product’s strategic goals. Last but not least, a colorful, well-designed visual can help highlight key information and add meaning without overcrowding the roadmap.

Product Roadmap Appearance

          5. Know when to show dates

Some product managers never include dates when presenting a roadmap, while others recommend to always display them. The safest approach could lie somewhere in the middle:

  • When it comes to internal product roadmaps that coordinate the work carried out by various teams (development, support, marketing, etc.), showing dates or timeframes is necessary, indeed. It will let everyone know how to organize their time so as not to impede others’ work or miss key deadlines. Also, including dates can be of particular importance when it comes to seasonal or date-driven products, such as a travel app that needs to be released before summer, or smartphones that must be rolled out just in time for Christmas sales.
  • In the case of external-facing roadmaps – presented to customers or users, for example – it may be best to not show any specific timeframes unless the product’s availability date is absolutely certain. This will reduce the risks of over-commitment, rushed work, and disappointed stakeholders.

          6. Show confidence and enthusiasm

No matter how good a product strategy is and how compelling the facts, simply reciting the information presented on the roadmap will most likely not get the desired reaction from audiences. Speaking enthusiastically and showing confidence in their plan will help product managers be much more persuasive and transmit that enthusiasm to the everyone in the room, giving the product the best shot at success.

          7. Be prepared to handle objections
  • “How can we scope this down?”
  • “Can’t we move faster?”
  • “The costs are too high.”
  • “Why can’t we do this another way?”
  • “Why don’t we add X or Y to the product?”

These are just a few of the many questions and objections the audience might have, and PMs need to be prepared to answer them. To reduce the chances of being caught off guard, experienced product managers brainstorm all possible issues the audience may raise and look for the best way to handle them before meeting the stakeholders.

Some common objections can be worked directly into the presentation and addressed even before they occur. For others, PMs can prepare responses that address not only the questions raised, but also deeper, underlying ones. Finally, to reduce the possible objections to a minimum, it is recommended to back up all statements and information presented with hard facts – for instance, user analytics, market statistics, direct customer requests, etc. Evidence is always more compelling than opinion.

Preparing a product roadmap presentation requires thorough planning, a good understanding of the audience, and great attention to detail. However, once mastered, it can be one of the most powerful communication tools for product managers to present their vision - and make it happen.

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Juno's Jupiter Exploration Mission Timeline

In August 2011, NASA launched an orbiter named Juno that would travel 1.7 billion miles to Jupiter to take measurements, snap photos and search for clues of how the largest planet in our solar system was formed. The spacecraft successfully reached Jupiter’s orbit on July 5, 2016, and has since wowed the world multiple times with the data and images sent back. Following the orbiter’s latest close flyby at the end of March, 2017, NASA has released another set of stunning photos that stirred up great interest worldwide. To celebrate Juno’s achievements, let’s have a look at its journey through space up until now and see what its future plans are as well.

Juno Jupiter exploration timeline

The Juno Space Probe Timeline illustrates the orbiter’s expedition to Jupiter, from the moment it was launched to its presumed disposal time. The image displays some of the most important milestones in Juno’s voyage, including the moment it entered Jupiter’s orbit, its 6 perijoves (the points in orbit where Juno is closest to Jupiter), its earliest expected camera failure, and its planned end of mission. The expedition was scheduled to end in February 2018, when Juno would intentionally be deorbited into Jupiter’s atmosphere and disintegrated to eliminate space debris and contamination risks. However, after engine problems that caused the spacecraft to orbit Jupiter at a slower rate, it is believed that the mission could continue through 2019.

The Juno Space Probe Timeline was created in PowerPoint using the Office Timeline plug-in and can be copied and distributed for private or public use. The free edition of the software can be used to make quick edits to the visual, while the Plus version features more advanced timeline creation and customization options – ideal for legal, business or academic presentations.

To customize or update the graphics, download the Juno Space Probe Timeline PowerPoint version here.

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Mars Missions Timeline: Odyssey to Present

Launched on April 7th, 2001, Mars Odyssey has spent a little over a decade orbiting the Red Planet and has since contributed numerous science results. The orbiter has been collecting groundbreaking data and serving NASA as a key communications relay and it currently holds the record for the longest serving spacecraft at Mars. Many other missions to the Red Planet have been launched since Odyssey was sent into space in 2001 – some failed, some were a success, while others are still ongoing. Let’s see a chronology of Odyssey’s successors and how they fared.

Mars Missions Timeline

The Mars Exploration Timeline illustrates all expeditions to the Red Planet since the launch of the record-breaking orbiter. Successful expeditions are marked using bright orange flags, red indicates missions that are still active, while the arrow-shaped milestones stand for failed attempts. The Schiaparelli mission is represented by a distinct icon (the diamond) on the timeline because it was not a complete success. The lander crashed, but it managed to achieve its primary goal, returning important data during the first 5 minutes of its landing attempt.

The Mars Exploration timeline was created with Office Timeline, a Microsoft PowerPoint add-in that makes building elegant timelines, Gantt charts and other visuals fast and simple. While the free edition of the add-in is fully functional, Office Timeline Plus comes with more advanced features and customization options, helping users create impressive graphics for business, academic or legal presentations.

The image is free to copy and reproduce for private or public use. To edit or update the timeline, download the Mars Exploration PowerPoint slide here.

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Johann Sebastian Bach Timeline

Johann Sebastian Bach Timeline

Revered through the ages for his stylistic innovations and the complexity of his works, Johann Sebastian Bach had an immense impact on the music created today. Every musical form – from classical vocal, solo, orchestral and chamber music to modern rock and jazz – owes something to the German composer. Although, under the old Julian calendar (used in 17th century Germany), Bach was born on March 21, 1685, nowadays his date of birth actually falls on the 31st according to the Gregorian calendar (in effect today). While others argue about when Bach’s birthday should be celebrated, we will timeline the other significant events of the composer’s life.

The Johann Sebastian Bach Timeline illustrates some of the major events and achievements in the life of the baroque composer, both personal and professional. The milestones positioned below the time band depict the musician’s childhood, personal and family life, while the ones displayed above the scale refer to his career and musical works. To ensure clarity and simplicity, not all life events and professional accomplishments were included in the graphic. For instance, although Bach has fathered a total of 20 children during his lifetime, only the four sons who have become famous themselves are displayed on the timeline.

The illustration was built in PowerPoint using the Office Timeline add-in and can be copied, reproduced and distributed for public or private use. The free version of the add-in can be used to quickly edit the timeline, while the Plus edition enables more advanced customization and offers powerful features to help create stunning visuals.

Download the Johann Sebastian Bach Timeline for PowerPoint here.

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Nintendo Game Consoles Timeline

Nintento Game Consoles Timeline

A giant in the gaming industry that has revolutionized video game play, Nintendo has recently launched its latest development, the Switch, in a bid to continue its tradition of innovation. Released worldwide on March 3, 2017, Nintendo Switch is a hybrid that can be used both as a home console and as a portable device. Although it has enjoyed strong sales in its first few weeks, it remains to be seen whether the new device will be another milestone in the history of gaming or it will soon be forgotten. Meanwhile, let’s have a look at the history of Nintendo consoles.

The Nintendo Timeline is a chronological illustration of all major gaming devices released by the company, whether they quietly marked a meaningful stage in Nintendo’s history or they took the world by storm. The image includes both home systems and portable devices, from Color TV Game 6 (the company’s first home console), the famous Nintendo Entertainment System, and Game Boy, to N64, Nintendo DS, Wii, and the latest release, the Switch.

The illustration was created using the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in and can be copied or reproduced for personal or public use. The free add-in can be used to edit the Nintendo Timeline PowerPoint slide or to quickly build similar visuals either for personal reference or for academic, business and legal presentations. While the free version of the software is fully functional and enables fast timeline creation, the Plus edition comes with more powerful features and customization options.

Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning, uncomplicated timelines and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Plus free for 14 days.