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Published 08 October 2012 05:45, Updated 09 October 2012 06:02
Nailing presentations to senior executives can open tremendous doors.
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.
Here’s how you can earn their attention and support:
Sounds like a lot of work? It is, but presenting to an executive team is a great honour and can open tremendous doors. If you nail this, people with a lot of influence will become strong advocates for your ideas.
Nancy Duarte is the author of the all-new edition of the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, as well as two award-winning books on the art of presenting, Slide:ology and Resonate. Her team at Duarte, Inc., has created more than a quarter of a million presentations for its clients and teaches public and corporate workshops on presenting. Follow Duarte on Twitter: @nancyduarte
Harvard Business Review
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