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A product roadmap is a statement of what you plan to produce in the coming months or years. Your product roadmap is also an essential communication and expectation-setting tool as it frames what you plan on accomplishing, and serves as a vehicle for getting buy-in across the organization.

In most companies, before anyone acts on the roadmap, it must be vetted and blessed by company leadership. As a product manager, you are the product spokesperson and as such are responsible for convincing stakeholders that your product roadmap, faithfully executed, will help meet company objectives.

So, what should you do before presenting your roadmap to your executive team?

There are two points when you will most likely seek executive buy-in on your roadmap:

  1. During the planning phase when you are initially laying out the high level product strategy and directional themes.
  2. During periodic reviews covering results of past releases and course corrections for upcoming ones.

I’ll focus on the planning and product strategy phase in this post, since it requires more upfront work. Product roadmap presentations are the end result of your efforts to assemble a plan which has input from key stakeholders both outside and within your organization.

Preparing for a Product Roadmap or Strategy Presentation? Remember “SOAPBOX”

The SOAPBOX framework is a list of essential concepts, questions and tasks which you should walk through when preparing for an executive level product roadmap presentation. These are the steps you take before presenting to the executive team. This framework will ensure you are ready to present the product roadmap in a way that your audience can digest so that you get the positive feedback you need to move forward.

There are 7 topics to keep in mind when preparing your roadmap presentation:

Subject: Be the Product Expert
executive product roadmap presentation

There are a two key parts of a Product Roadmap: the Product and the Roadmap. (I know, I’m brilliant.) As the product manager, you had better be the product expert, understanding your market and users, their key problems, and how your product can and will address them.

But…being the product expert does not automatically make you the roadmap expert. A roadmap is a statement of where the product needs to go and should be aligned with market needs and longer term business objectives.

Critical Tasks:

Key Questions:

Occasion: Understand the Context of your Presentation

Make your presentation more relevant by tailoring it to the context in which it will be given. Also, save yourself the grief of being surprised when you go to give the presentation… take a moment to consider where you will be giving the presentation, and the broader context surrounding it.

Critical Tasks:

Key Questions:

Audience: Know Your Audience

To whom will you be presenting? Know your audience, whether it is the executive team, your direct managers, or your colleagues, and tailor the content in your roadmap presentation to them.

Critical Tasks:

Key Questions:

Purpose: Begin with the End in Mind

roadmap presentation
As always, when creating an impactful presentation, begin with the end in mind and work backwards. What do you want the audience to think or do as a result of hearing your presentation? What is the goal of the presentation? What is your desired outcome?

Critical Tasks:

Key Questions:

Before: Involve Internal Stakeholders from the Start

presenting roadmap to internal stakeholders
What’s the not-so-secret secret to creating an effective product roadmap? According to Brian de Haaff of Aha!, “[T]he key is that executive stakeholders and your cross-functional peers need to be involved from the beginning. This takes the pressure off of the actual presentation because the entire team is in sync with the key product strategy and drivers.”

 Critical Tasks:

Key Questions:

Objection Handling: Dealing with Pushback

Most salespeople are familiar with objection handling; prospects come up with all kinds of excuses and reasons why they will not, can not, or should not buy a particular product. Experienced and exceptional sales professionals are prepared to handle any and all objections. They consider why someone might not want to close the sale, and prepare a solid rebuttal ahead of time. In order to get management buy in on your product roadmap, you may need to think like a salesperson when facing pushback from executives on your plan.

An example of a common objection you may face: Stakeholders want your roadmap to include precise dates and want you to commit to hitting those dates. (It’s a trap!) Janna Barstow offers some sage advice on this topic at the end of her excellent talk on product roadmapping.

Tips for Handling Objections from Stakeholders:

Key Questions:

eXecute: Presenting your Roadmap to Stakeholders

You’ve put in the time to create a solid product roadmap, spoken with as many key stakeholders as you could, and now all that is left is to actually present it. Here are a few tips related to creating the presentation itself and presenting it:

Need more pointers? Check out Rand Fishkin’s post “How to Cheat at Creating Great Presentations for Tech & Marketing Audiences”. Want more? How about 15 Research tools and resources for presentations?


Creating a compelling roadmap is only one step in obtaining Executive buy-in and sign-off to your product’s plan. You need to be able to articulate that plan so others can understand it. Remember these tasks when preparing for an executive level briefing:

Steven Telio

About Steven Telio

Steven is a Product Management Consultant who specializes in defining and delivering stellar digital products. He has held senior level Product Management roles with a number of startups, including 4 which had successful exits. He has led projects in a variety of industries for organizations that include EMC, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Syngenta, Boeing, NASA, and Harvard Medical School, and began his career doing technical support for a medical device start-up, where he answered “patient-on-the-table” service calls from neurosurgeons.