Complete Intro to Product Management

Formatting Exercise

Brian Holt

Brian Holt

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Complete Intro to Product Management

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The "Formatting Exercise" Lesson is part of the full, Complete Intro to Product Management course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Students are instructed to copy and paste a project status update into a word processor like Google Docs and format the text to articulate the message better.


Transcript from the "Formatting Exercise" Lesson

>> So I'm gonna put this Doc here, and it starts here where it says, August 1 Status Update. So go ahead and copy and paste all of this, into your favorite text editor. And again, if you wanna just pop right into Google Docs, don't mind if you use Word.

You could use markdown if you really were bent on doing that, but I'm gonna suggest that you use a text editor, or sorry, a word processor. And feel free to modify a little bit if you would like to, but for the most part, I'm trying to get you to leave the content mostly intact and use formatting to communicate your points.

So audience, senior leadership team for a 5,000 person organization. They know the broad stroke of your projects, but they need an update on the status of the project to be able to close some sales deals. You're redoing the checkout float to incorporate feedback from some UX research. You're moving from a three-page checkout page to a streamlined one-page checkout.

The project is going well, but you are a bit behind schedule. And that's kind of the point that you're trying to make here, is like, hey, things are great, no one panic, we have to move the deadlines back a little bit. I'm sure none of you have ever been in situations that sounds at all like this.

So your point here as the readers is that, we are behind schedule, we are not much behind schedule, so getting both of those points across, useful. So let's slice and dice this. So I'm just gonna go into Google Docs, I'm gonna use my amazing copying and paste skills.

That is also half of being a PM, is copying and pasting. That doesn't change between engineering and PMing, and paste this business in here. So first thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna make this a title, and I'm gonna make this a heading, and I'm gonna make this a heading.

This is all pretty clumped together. Again I'm optimizing very much for readership here, so I would typically make this line spacing a bit higher. What is the line spacing? 1.5's usually pretty good, I think that makes it quite a bit more readable. And then I would probably use some bolding here to just make sure that I'm communicating the point here of what we are.

The UX team found some issues with the cart moving the checkout button right to left. The redesigns are underway, that feels pretty important So that might be something you might bold there, you need to bold something that lets them know. Our project will miss, I would probably bold that as well.

Yeah, you might even just unbold this, and unbold that one down at the bottom. I mean, there's kinda a couple ways to, We're only two weeks behind, yeah, maybe something like that. I might reorganize this, so this is obviously down towards the bottom, right? So you might have to spend some time rephrasing some of this just to say that we're gonna miss our end of the quarter project, and we're only two weeks behind.

Therefore some executive reading this could say, okay, two more weeks, I can do that, right? Or, my God, two weeks, we sold a bunch of people on this, and now we're in a heap of trouble, or something like that, yeah.
>> On that point of two weeks, how then would I interpret the comments, this one sentence earlier that says it's four weeks, we have four weeks worth of work?

We're emphasizing two weeks, but if I'm reading that, there's a claim that it has four weeks.
>> I think when I was writing this, which, at this point, you're just into what was Brian thinking while he was drinking a beer and writing this? Who knows, that Brian is dead to us now.

[LAUGH] But,
>> I guess I've run into these where it's technically a four-week delay if we had half the staff and things like that. And it's important to communicate that we're solving a longer problem in a shorter time.
>> Totally, and it's an intent thing and you probably could clean up a language here..

I think my intent was that there's we're still-
>> Two weeks away.
>> Yeah, instead of being four weeks away, we're now six weeks away, right? So there's a two-week delay to the project that we already had anticipating four more weeks or whatever that was.
>> Okay.
>> Yeah, but however you chose to interpret that, as long as you're emphasizing, we're a little bit behind, but we are behind, that's what I was looking to get out of you.

And I was trying to keep this from overflowing into some big thing, right?
>> I took the first paragraph out and I put the delay in the text under that's of the changes, and I took that first paragraph out, cuz that first paragraph, it seems like an excuse.

We're maintaining good cadence, I'm like, yeah, that's great, but if there's a delay, I think I'd want to know that first.
>> Yep, I actually think that's even better.
>> I started down a similar path, because, yeah, the two paragraphs are sort of two sides of the same coin, and there's a lot of detail that depending on largely, I think, the culture and your relationship with this particular senior management audience.

They may or may not care about some of that detail. So initially I started restructuring it as a bulleted list, expecting there to be multiple factors in the delay. But then as I read through more of the content, found there was only one, I thought, I could probably fit this in about three sentences.

And the link to the research results, if they care, here's why we're doing the work that we're doing. And the bottom line is we're gonna be missing our deadline by two weeks, and period, send, [LAUGH]
>> Awesome, yeah, I like that's, probably even better. [COUGH] And it kind of events in the context you invent for yourself in this particular case.

But again, I like that you're trying to form some imaginary audience to send this to, right, cuz ultimately, who's gonna be reading it? What do you want them to get out of it, and what do you want them to do about it? Hey, we're two weeks behind, please don't panic, right?

Cuz if you're just like, hey, we're behind, they're gonna be like, my God, I'm gonna panic, right? Or maybe like I said, maybe it is, my God, we're two weeks behind and we're gonna miss our sales deadline or whatever that is, right? In this particular case, I just wanted them to say, we're just a little bit behind, we are missing end of quarter, we are only two weeks behind.

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