The anatomy of an executive presentation

  1. Be brief
  2. Be precise
  3. Be memorable
  4. Be prepared

Be brief

For a 30 minute slot, prepare a 5 – 10 min talk.

Then do something memorable (see point 3).

Then leave time for Q&A.

These 3 things in equal measure.

Cover 3 key points.

Even if your slides are jam-packed with content, facts and figures, pull out only a couple of items from each slide to support one of your 3 key points.

Be precise

Ensure your content is accurate before you present. One small error, picked up and challenged can undermine you. If there’s a question mark over one thing, in the minds of the audience, there’s a question mark over all of them. If you make multiple errors, you’ll be sent packing.

Write a script so you don’t waffle. Rehearse it so it doesn’t sound like a script.

Speak slowly, or more slowly than you would normally. Let your words sink in. You’ll sound more confident and your message will land more easily.

Be memorable

Your audience will receive hundreds of presentations each year, so do something to make sure you last in their memories.

Here are some ideas:

Pose a question at the beginning of your slot to get people engaged and come back to it at the end to conclude.

Or leave them with a question to take away and ponder.

Include something visual – a product demo, a customer role play, some audience interaction (which you could link to your opening question).

Give time back at the end of your slot, showing you can manage your time and you respect theirs.

Warning!! When trying to work out how memorable to be, don’t forget to gauge the audience. If you’re unsure, treat it like a sartorial choice: it’s better to be overdressed (be more professional) than underdressed (be too informal). Especially with executives. This isn’t time to try your stand up routine.

Be prepared

Anything can happen, so expect it will and be ready for it.

  • What’s your back up plan if the tech fails?
  • Who’ll step in if your co-presenter is sick?
  • Have you been to the loo? (No, seriously, you want to get this out of the way, especially if you’re feeling nervous)

Q&A is a time for audience members to prove to others in the room that they’re doing their job. Recognise this when you’re asked questions which you want to answer by saying

obviously, yes! I wouldn’t be doing my job if that wasn’t true‘!

Remember, they’re not doing their job if they don’t ask 🙂

Let me know anything you’d add to the list.

And good luck with your next presentation!

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