Presenting To Executives

Over the course of your career, you will likely give dozens (if not hundreds) of presentations to all kinds of audiences. However, few events induce the same levels of fear and anxiety as presenting to executives.

And with good reason. Why?

  1. Most presenters can’t present without slides or notes.
  2. Most executives have no time.

Sounds harsh doesn’t it? But these two pearls of wisdom can help you deliver your message that fits the communication needs of executives and increases your chances of getting the outcome you are hoping to achieve. Here’s how.

First – know your material backwards and forwards.

Imagine you’re giving an executive a Powerpoint or Keynote presentation. Suddenly, abruptly, and unexpectedly – there is a power failure in the building, which means you will be unable to show the executive your slides.

Now what? All those hours you spent preparing those beautiful slides, all those amazing illustrations, all those dazzling transitions from one slide to the next – you can’t use them because there’s no power. Of course you could use your laptop to display the slides, but the impact of a compelling display on a large screen is no longer an option. What will you do?

Be ready! Prepare your message, your conversation, your presentation in a way that your effectiveness will not depend on a power source.

Second – learn to present concisely from your listener’s point of view.

Remember, executives make decisions in real-time and they do so rapidly and decisively. Of course they consider the details, but in seconds, not in hours and seldom even in minutes.

Plan accordingly. Develop your thoughts and deliver your ideas so that within whatever time you have to talk to an executive, you answer these four questions – from the executive’s point of view:

  1. Why should I listen to you in the first place (your headline – key point)?
  2. Why should I keep listening to you (give examples, reasons, and benefits)?
  3. What do you want me to remember (make a compelling key point and repeat it)?
  4. What do you want me to do (close by telling the action you want completed)?

Bottom line: When presenting to an executive, rely on your presentation skills, and NOT on technology.

Technology is never a replacement for your innovative ideas and creative expression. And remember, whatever time you may think you have while presenting to executives will likely be cut short. Be ready to clearly and briefly tell the executive why they should listen to you, how it will benefit the organization, what they should remember, and what action you want them to take.


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