In the corporate world, you often need to get the board or stakeholders to buy into your project or idea. Your job is to show that the business idea your team has come up with has measurable added value for the company and to express that in a way that aligns with senior management objectives and the company strategy.
You have to throw out everything you learned from traditional presentation training. It is not about making a speech that educates, persuades, inspires or leads. It is about raw decision making.
Preparation Is Key
- Build Your Pitch
- Structure your thoughts in a way that will ensure the buy-in on the receiving end.
- Prepare for potential questions. Make sure to have pre-cooked answers for strong questions and counter-arguments.
- Start from the stakeholders’ perspective: What are the key facts they are looking for? What is the level and amount of information they need?
- Identify the most relevant numbers and data; use data to help them understand business risks and opportunities.
- Facts Into Messages
- Turn facts into powerful messages that resonate with the audience.
- Explain what is unique about your idea (USP-s).
- Create sound bites for stakeholders to remember them by.
- Skip storytelling. Most executives do not find stories helpful in senior meetings because of time constraints. They came in to make a decision and leave because they have an agenda for that day they can’t possibly meet.
- Watch Your Language
- Keep it simple.
- The aim is to communicate, not to show off your vocabulary.
- Emphasize the key points — and make sure people realize which are the key points.
- Use assertive language. Avoid Modals and Conditionals. Have ”I” or ”We” statements.
- Practice Mental Training
- Confidence, composure, focus, and motivation are highly significant to good delivery.
- Take advantage of positive thinking, self-talk, imagery and goal setting to prepare for your talk.
Top executives want a discussion, not a slide-driven lecture
- Come Across Credible and Passionate
- The first 7 seconds are crucial. People will follow others if they come across credible and passionate.
- A detailed slideshow does not convince them you know your stuff.
- If you can’t talk off the slides, you will lose trust.
- Use Your Voice To Communicate Clearly
- Speak slowly and clearly. Don’t rush! Speaking fast doesn’t make you seem smarter; it will only make it harder for other people to understand you.
- Keywords are important. Speak them out slowly and loudly.
- Vary your voice quality. Don’t always use the same volume and pitch.
- When you begin a new point, use a higher pitch and volume.
- Slow down for key points.
- Use pauses—don’t be afraid of short periods of silence.
- Use Your Body To Communicate, Too
- Stand or sit straight and comfortably. Do not slouch or shuffle about.
- Hold your head up. Look around and make eye-contact with people in the audience.
- Use Gestures To Emphasize What You’re Talking About
- Add a layer of meaning by talking with your hands.
- Use hand gestures purposefully to emphasize your message.
- Don’t do anything that could be interpreted as defensive e.g., putting your hands in “fig-leaf” position, in your pockets, behind your back, or folding your arms in front of your chest or even across your body for extended periods of time.