It seems an impossible task doesn’t it?
Senior executives are so short of time, (usually) exceptionally intelligent and smart, and very impatient to move onto the next big decision.
They want accurate information delivered quickly, so as with all successful presentations, make sure you give the audience what they want.
Here are some steps to follow:
- Start with the most important information first. Lead with what they care about – high level findings, recommendations, your call to action. Make sure you link your content to the appropriate corporate objectives.
- Create executive summary slides. Have these slides at the front of your deck with an overview of the key points. Once you’ve gone through the summary, let the group drive the conversation. Bring up any slides behind your summary as and when necessary to discuss those areas where the execs want to go deeper.
- Set expectations. If your executive audience know they won’t have to listen to a detailed presentation with a big reveal at the end, they’ll be more likely to listen to you. In a 30 minute presentation, tell them you’ll talk for 5 minutes and dedicate the rest of the time to questions. Even the most impatient exec will keep quiet for 5 minutes.
- Stay on topic. Despite your in-depth knowledge of the topic, don’t be tempted to digress. You have been asked to give some missing information or to present a particular angle on the subject; do only that. Your expertise can be demonstrated (if appropriate) when answering questions.
- Rehearse. And rehearse and rehearse. Presenting clearly and concisely is a SKILL that you can only acquire with practice. When we speak in public without rehearsing, we tend to say too many words; don’t let that happen to you, and particularly with this type of audience. Try and rehearse in front of someone with experience of this particular audience – is your message clear and succinct? Are the summary slides clear? Is the audience expecting something you are not providing?
How you present to the senior execs in your company can make or break your career.
Make sure you use this opportunity to MAKE your career.
This post was inspired by Nancy Duarte, from the book ‘HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations’