How To Present To Senior Executives

When presenting to an audience of senior executives, these 5 things will help them make decisions more easily and efficiently:

/1 Get to the point: Take less time than you were allocated. If you were given 30 minutes, create your talk within that timeframe. But then, pretend that your slot just got cut to 5 minutes. That’ll force you to be succinct and deliver the things they care about—high-level findings, conclusions, recommendations, your call to action. Hit those points clearly and simply before you venture into supporting data or tangential areas of importance to you.

/2  Give them what they asked for: Stay on topic. If you were invited to give an update about the flooding of the manufacturing plant in Indonesia, do that before covering anything else. They’ve invited you because they felt you could supply a missing piece of information, so answer that specific request quickly.

/3  Set expectations: At the beginning, let the execs know how you plan to structure your time slot. For example, you could say that you plan to spend the first 5 of your 30 minutes presenting your summary and the remaining time on discussion. Most executives can be patient for 5 minutes and let you present your main points well if they know they’ll be able to ask questions fairly soon.

/4  Create executive summary slides: Develop a clear, short overview of your key points, and place it in a set of executive summary slides at the front of the deck; have the rest of your slides serve as an appendix. Follow a 10% rule of thumb: If your appendix is 50 slides, devote about 5 slides to your summary at the beginning. After you present the summary, let the group drive the conversation. Often, executives will want to go deeper on the points that will aid in their decision-making. You can quickly pull up any slide in the appendix that speaks to those points of interest to them.

/5 Rehearse: Before presenting, run your slides by someone who has success getting ideas adopted at the executive level and who will serve as an honest coach. Is your message coming through clearly and quickly? Do your summary slides boil everything down into skimmable key insights? Are you missing anything your audience is likely to expect?

Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is, but presenting to an executive team is a great honor and can open tremendous doors for you. If you nail this presentation, people with a lot of influence will become strong advocates for your ideas.