There is little that enrages me more than a manager asking a subordinate to prepare a presentation which the manager will deliver. My view of presentations is the speaker holds the information and the slides are a merely an aid to delivering it verbally. Therefore, it makes no sense for someone other than the presenter to prepare the slides, any more than the business of writing a Best Man’s speech should be hived off to someone else (although I’m sure this happens). There are exceptions: politicians have speechwriters, and similarly high-flying CEOs will have someone who knows the individual’s style to prepare presentations, or at least the bulk of them.
On the occasions I’ve been asked to do this, I’ve always responded with “But I have no idea what you want to say and how you want to say it.” If they persist, I prepare a presentation as if I was delivering it, starting off with a picture of a wave crashing on a beach and no surrounding text. Early into the “review” meeting it dawns on them they ought to have asked someone else. Usually they can find half a dozen others who will jump to the task toute de suite, which is why they have careers and I don’t.
If a manager is asking a subordinate to prepare a presentation for him or her it’s a clear sign they are incompetent at both presentations and management. Anyone who takes delivering a presentation seriously would prepare it themselves, and practice it. They’d know what they were going to say on each page, and how the information on the slide complements their words. They’d also work on the pacing, and own the whole thing from beginning to end. Getting someone else to do it is a sign the person knows full well the presentation is unimportant, or being given for the reasons I describe in my previous post.
Half the time, though, I think it’s a method with which insecure managers belittle their subordinates. It’s one thing getting an intern or junior to prepare presentations, but another to get middle aged men and women with 15-20 years experience to carry out the boss’s admin duties. It’s surprisingly common, though. A friend of mine works for a giant American company in its European headquarters in Paris, and she spends half her time preparing slides for her incompetent and superfluous manager and the other half implementing petty, cosmetic changes on the ones she’d prepared earlier. My friend is 44 with an MBA and two decades of experience. As I’ve remarked before, the activities of large, modern corporations tend to consist largely of preparing thousands of slides for internal use and bickering over their contents.
The above might not be completely down to belittlement. Managers who’ve been promoted above their competence level and lack confidence almost always try to rectify this by micromanaging their subordinates, and this can result in lengthy meetings discussing the contents of an upcoming presentation. But if you want to show you hold your underlings in contempt, getting them to do your PowerPoint admin is a good way to go about it.