How to Present to Senior Executives by Nancy Duarte
Senior executives are one of the toughest crowds you’ll face as a presenter. They’re incredibly impatient because their schedules are jam-packed — and they have to make lots of high-stakes decisions, often with little time to weigh options. So they won’t sit still for a long presentation with a big reveal at the end. They’ll just interrupt you before you finish your shtick.
It can be frustrating. You probably have a lot to say to them, and this might be your only shot to say it. But if you want them to hear you at all, get to what they care about right away so they can make their decisions more efficiently. Having presented to top executives in many fields — from jet engines to search engines — I’ve learned the hard way that if you ramble in front of them, you’ll get a look that says, “Are you kidding me? You really think I have the time to care about that?” So quickly and clearly present information that’s important to them, ask for questions, and then be done. If your spiel is short and insightful, you’ll get their ear again.
Curated from How to Present to Senior Executives – HBR
Think of the presentation as a magazine. If the cover page is catchy you pick up the magazine to read in depth.
- Lead with the ace (main point): Start your presentation with the information the audience really cares about – recommendations, a call to action, high level findings, conclusions etc. This is the magazine cover page. If they listen to nothing more they should know what were you talking about. e.g. A presentation to the board for more manpower. Start with “require 25 more engineers” (main point). Then move to substantiate your requirement with supporting data e.g work load analysis, market potential, competitor activity etc.
- Set expectations: Tell them upfront what to expect i.e. you will share the key points and then delve into any area they want elaborated.
- Keep it short : Leaders do not have the patience to sit through long winded presentations wondering whats the point. So get to the point fast. Create summary slides : These give the bottomline of what you want to speak about. If they want more information on any of the points elaborate on it. I typically use hyperlinks on my summary slides.
- Give them what they asked for: Give them the information that they asked for prior to getting into any other area.
- Rehearse : Ensure you are well prepared
Lovely Kumar is a facilitator, trainer, psychometric assessor and is co-founder at Larks Learning Pvt Ltd. She has a unique background which combines economics, management, advertising, sales, teaching and training. She has worked with a range of corporates and academic institutions. Additionally she has obtained international certifications in training and psychometric assessments.
Learn more and reach Lovely Kumar for training workshops or DISC assessments at at www.larkslearning.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 91-9899108659.