Presenting to management is a great opportunity. It should allow you to be noticed and to impress your managers with your capabilities as both an individual employee and as a representative of your company or organisation. However, as you increasingly gain access to managers higher up the corporate ladder, the more important your public speaking skills will become, and the more pressure you may find yourself under. In order to progress in your career you really will need to sell yourself, your ideas, and your ability. Here are some presentation tips that will help you:
Know your audience
Enquire from personal assistants or administrators to find out exactly who will be attending your presentation. Dig further to see if you can discover precisely what your managers know about the subject you are required to brief them about.
Find out as much as you can about where the meeting will be held and what facilities are available to you. Take time to discover whether your senior management team are happy to have a PowerPoint presentation, because some managers hate them and may prefer simpler graphics or hand-outs.
If it is appropriate you can send advance information by email, but given how busy most executive and senior managers are, you cannot expect them to have had the time or the inclination to read it. No doubt they will have just come out of one meeting and will be on their way to another, so consider their needs above your own.
It’s a given that you will spend a considerable number of hours putting the content and slides together for your presentation. Know your content inside out and back to front. Rehearse your presentation until it sounds completely natural. You need to present like a professional, so dress like one and sound like one. Act confidently and make eye contact. Be pleasant, respectful and never overly familiar. Whatever happens do not read your presentation either from a script or a screen. If you’re very nervous use cue cards, but you’ll look much more in control if you just speak as though the whole thing is spontaneous.
Have a Good opening
Your managers need to feel instantly confident that you can do what you say, so start strong. Their time is very valuable so don’t waste it by cracking jokes or making small talk. The first thing you need to tell them is what the outcomes of their meeting with you will be, and how you will get to that point via the direction you intend to take.
Simplicity is the key
Your introduction should be strong and confident then, and state what the outcomes will be so you are starting with conclusions and then moving onto context. Keep a tight focus on where you are headed and avoid all tangents. Strip down what you need to say to the bare minimum and make point after point using facts and evidence that you can back up.
Besides the outcomes at the beginning, a good presentation will be split into three parts:
- What the issue/problem/challenge/product or service is
- How it will benefit or disadvantage the company
- What you and your team need in order to make it a reality
Remember that the last 15 seconds of the presentation are usually the most vital, so ensure all your take home points are repeated at the end. Keep your presentation short and sharp and simple and it will be memorable.
Be Time Wise
Your managers’ time is valuable. Cover what you need to say as quickly as possible and allow plenty of time for questions and answers. They may well interrupt you to ask for clarification, or to ask you to return to a previous slide or ask you to jump forwards in the presentation. Don’t let this throw you. Be prepared for what took you hours to prepare, overnight, to merely become a post script as you walk out the door. Be gracious and flexible and your managers will be grateful that you make their lives easier.
In the event that a point that you raise causes a great deal of discussion, be prepared to skip parts of your presentation so that you can get back on track again and make up time.
The key point to remember about your meeting with your managers is that you should present what they want to see, and not what you want to show them. It’s also important that you understand your material thoroughly, and this means knowing where all the holes and potential unanswered questions lie in what you’re presenting. You should be prepared to back up everything you say, and understand any consequences of any statements you make. Never answer a question with “I don’t know.” Make it your job to know or to find out. Make reference to any topics that are currently of burning interest in your industry and always take advice from those in your company or organisation who make the time to offer it.
If you manage to make a strong impression all the effort you put into preparing the presentation will pay off, so get your head down, get to work, and good luck!
Stay in touch and sign up for our newsletter