If you haven’t already had the pleasure it’s highly likely that at some point you will be called on to make a formal presentation to your executive team.
I don’t know too many people who look forward to the prospect but you should. After all, what better opportunity is there to show them just how talented you are?
You don’t need me to remind you that the key to your success lies squarely in your carefully crafted content and how passionately you deliver your message. Although you also know that it’s not quite that simple.
In today’s incredibly competitive and advancing commercial landscape the one thing you can be certain of is that your senior management team don’t have the gift of time on their side. That means that you also have a finite amount of time to get their attention, heighten their curiosity and deliver a message that will not only be acted on but talked about for some time afterwards.
These 7 tips will help you to ensure that your presentation is a great success while you achieve something that many presenters don’t; your audience enjoys it.
1. Leave your laptop alone
It’s often the first thing professionals reach for when tasked with delivering any presentation when it should always be the last. If the first thing you do is dive straight into PowerPoint you’ll put yourself into ‘autopilot’. What I mean by that is that you’ll prepare using the same templates, the same thought process and probably even the same materials and information you always use.
Your executive team have seen it all before and it’s extremely tedious.
Go analogue instead by using large post it notes, flip chart paper or write on the wall if you have to but prepare manually and open your creative mind.
2. Ask yourself 2 questions as you prepare
The first question is ‘what’s my objective?’ That means you clarify exactly what you want from them in one short and simple sentence. What is it you hope to achieve by the time you have finished presenting to them.
Is it buy- in from them, if so what exactly does that look like?
Is it commitment for funding, additional resources or simply approval to take the next step?
The second question is ‘what’s my intention?’ That means how do you want them to feel?
It’s all well and good having all of the facts, data and supporting evidence but as well as creating an intellectual understanding nothing happens until you make an emotional connection. To achieve that you need to be absolutely clear why your message should be important to them, why they should care and what it is that would make them care.
3. Be them for the day
Many people think it’s easy at the top; you get the big office, prime car parking space, great lunches and a big fat bonus each year, what could be so tough.
I can assure you that for many execs the price for those gifts is high. Sleepless nights, increasing pressure, anxiety and isolation are just a few of the downsides.
If you really want to get their attention, keep it and get them to act on your message you need to put yourself in their shoes. Before you begin to prepare your presentation spend a day thinking about the challenges and pressure they face and how what you have to say can help them in some way.
4. Show them the future
That’s where they live anyway so help them to see it more clearly and feel excited about getting there. Most senior managers spend far too much time ‘fire- fighting’ and that’s not really what they want to do or where they want to be.
Share you vision, help them to see the possibilities and opportunities and challenge the status quo.
5. Make the first 60 seconds count
If you haven’t captured their full attention and interest in the first 60 seconds you may as well pack up and treat yourself to an early lunch. It really is that simple, remember the one thing they lack more than anything is time.
Don’t make the mistake many presenters do in thanking them for the opportunity to speak, reminding them who you are and telling them what a pleasure it is to be there. They really don’t care.
Tell them a powerful but relevant story
Share something very unusual
Ask them a question
Get them to use their imagination
Do whatever it takes to ignite their interest and curiosity
6. Don’t be a comedian
I’m not suggesting you avoid humour as appropriate humour can be extremely powerful. What I mean is don’t save the punchline for the end of your presentation as the comedian does.
They need to know very quickly that you’re not going to waste their time and the only way you can achieve that is by making it very clear up front why what it is you have to say is so important.
7. Take the risk
You’ve got their attention and they seem to like your idea so now they are already thinking ‘what’s the risk’.
Don’t wait for them to ask, show them you’ve done your homework and how well considered and robust your idea is.
As well as knowing what the risk is they need to be certain that you’ve also got the solution, don’t leave it to them to work it out for you.
Remember, you won’t be invited to speak in the first place if they aren’t interested in what you have to say so take advantage of the opportunity.
Many people feel a little intimidated presenting to senior management but you don’t have to be one of them. They don’t want to hear a ‘robotic’ speech or listen to you read a bunch of slides they want to have a conversation with the real you.
Taking the time to prepare using these 7 suggestions will greatly enhance your impact and success.
Maurice De Castro is a former corporate executive of some of the UK’s best loved brands. Maurice believes that the route to success in any organisation lies squarely in its ability to really connect with people. That’s why he left the boardroom to create a business helping leaders to do exactly that. Learn more at www.mindfulpresenter.com