12 Most Convincing Actions that Get Senior Management to Listen

12 Most Convincing Actions that Get Senior Management to Listen

Here is your goal! You want to come across as totally knowledgeable about the content, confident and credible. You are presenting to upper management, investors, the Board or key customers. Here’s what your audience is looking, and not looking, for.

1. Don’t waste their time

Don’t read the agenda to them. An executive once told me, “I don’t need to listen to someone going through an agenda. He just wasted a minute of the ten minutes he has.” Instead, spend time telling them things they do not know. Look at your content and cut to what your audience already knows. Finally, don’t tell them everything you know or everything you have done. Once again, they don’t want or need to hear and respond to it. What they do want to know is just enough in order to decide on the decision you are recommending.

2. Provide an executive summary

Start by sharing the key messages of your presentation right up front. They don’t want to listen for ten minutes until you get to the punch line.

Here are two examples of executive summaries you can download:  “Change Executive Format” and “Influence Executive Format”.

Strategy Recommendation Executive Summary Example

Project Update Executive Summary Example

 

3. Don’t show many slides (if any!)

If you do show slides, create images that capture your messages. If you read the slides, you’re done for.

4. Make time for your listeners to ask questions

Don’t talk so fast and plan to share so much data that your listeners cannot ask questions. Give them time during the talk as well as at the end.

5. If you are explaining a product or an idea, show or demo it if you can

Seeing it is better than only hearing about it. That’s why companies give out samples.

6. Keep the jargon out of the talk — unless they use it themselves

It’s your job to translate the jargon into everyday language so that everyone in your audience understands.

7. Pause between your sentences

Speak calmly, yet energetically. Don’t bore your audience with your voice. Don’t create a 15-minute talk and try to fit it into a 10-minute slot. Talking fast is not the solution.

8. Look at each person

It’s supposed to be a conversation. End each sentence looking at someone, not at the paper or the slide. If it’s part of the culture and appropriate in the setting, before you begin your talk and you are meeting people, shake hands firmly and look at the person when you shake hands.

9. Answer questions truthfully and concisely

If you don’t know, don’t try to fake it! One strategy is to say, “That number is not on the tip of my tongue; let me get the figure to you later on today.”

10. If someone disagrees, get curious

Ask a question. Request more information. “Will you say some more about how you see this situation?” Or, “I did not consider this perspective. Let’s talk about it.” Be careful not to put someone down when he or she disagrees with you. Do a practice run. Find a colleague to be really argumentative and practice how to handle the situation.

11. Be shorter than the time allotted, rather than longer

Save time for comments and questions. For a 20-minute slot, only talk 10-15 minutes.

12. Be yourself

Film yourself and look at your behaviors. Then get rid of the bad habits such as holding your hands in front of you or saying “um.” Keep the good habits, such as pausing between sentences and speaking only about the details your audience needs to know.

These are not difficult behaviors to learn. You just have to practice them before you get up in front of an audience of executives. There are two pieces to a presentation: content and delivery. Prepare the content early enough that you have time to practice delivery; then rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. To add the frosting on the cake of your presentation rehearsal, find someone to ask you all the tough questions. The more you rehearse to sound confident and credible with your presentation, the more you will get your audience to sit up and listen. I challenge you to rehearse 3-4 times for the next important presentation.

Featured image courtesy of ky_olsen licensed via Creative Commons.

Claudyne Wilder

http://www.wilderpresentations.com/blog

Claudyne Wilder coaches clients to get to the message! Develop audience-focused content. Design message-oriented slides. Deliver a compelling, passionate presentation. She’s passionate about her client’s successes! She dances the Argentine Tango and frequently helps her clients gain an edge by giving them ideas on how a tango dances connects with a dance partner.

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17 comments
Dennis Kunian
Dennis Kunian

Great list, Claudyne. One point I always like to drive home with my people is to quickly engage the audience. Quick story or a little humor. Most of these proposals are not life or death situations and little well placed and quick humor doesnt hurt.

Great thoughts , Claudyne..

 

Thanks,

 

Dennis Kunian

Butch Bellah
Butch Bellah

Love it, Claudyne! Butch Bellah www.butchbellah.com

dbvickery
dbvickery

I agree with the entire list, Claudyne. I am a big believer in #3 and #5 - I've completely eliminated the slide deck from most of my presentations, and I've gone straight to product demo. And I definitely try to keep it interactive, so the Charlie Brown "teacher effect" doesn't kick in!

evolutionfiles
evolutionfiles

@Qforma_Jenn Thanks for mentioning me, Jennifer.

spofcher
spofcher

Claudyne - This is a great list.  I like #10: "If someone disagrees, get curious"  It is very easy to get defensive (I know), because it may feel that someone is attacking your ideas.  But it is a good way to learn new perspectives and to possibly even get that person on your side by answering their objectives.

TedRubin
TedRubin

Great post Claudyne... so important to have a guide and be focused. #13 for me... know your audience and do your homework about who they are what is important to each of them. 

Milaspage
Milaspage

A great list to get to the point, and keep things moving! If i had to add something I would also mention that sometimes people make presentations that speak to what they think their audience wants to hear, however it does happen that the presentation isn't always well aligned with what the particular audience is looking for or can relate to, so I would recommend making sure that how you perceive the talk or presentation is going to respond to what they are expecting - do some initial research and try and make sure you have tie ins to what your audience is looking for (either by doing a pre interview, exploring their website fully, or researching the players. There is nothing more frustrating then when a rep comes in and presents something and we know they could have made it more relevant, or they have missed key parts of our culture in their approach. It is a whole other kind of waste of time.

 

Love this list! thank you :) Here's to more effective meetings and success in presentations!

WineEveryday
WineEveryday

Oh... where do I begin~! this is Great!!

As someone in  Senior Management I can't tell you how much time is wasted on over done presentations (a lot riddled with mistakes!!!). Let me chime in on some of your 12most:

#3 - Slides ~ mostly they are a crutch... like accessories, get rid of 1/2 of them.

#6 - Jargon ~ mostly tells me you have nothing else to say.

#7 - Pause ~ breathe for goodness sake, Don't talk to me like we are at the GYM!

#12 - Be Yourself (sans the Bad habits) ~ nothing irritates anyone more than 'ummm', and 'you know' and 'like' Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

 

Awesome article! Cheers Claudyne!

kevmitch333
kevmitch333

All of these steps are extremely helpful but I specifically like number 10.  I think it is important to keep the discussion positive and foster great dialogue to help get to the root of everyone's thoughts. It really helps with productivity. Great stuff Claudyne!

 

 

claudyne
claudyne

 @dbvickery I am impressed!!! Your customers must love you for not doing the slide deck!! 

claudyne
claudyne

 @spofcher You are so right. It's not easy to do. I'm trying to learn how to say, "Tell me more about what you are thinking." Rather than "Well no it is really like this."

Yes, and I like the new perspective idea. Going from seeing one color to seeing many colors idea.

claudyne
claudyne

 @TedRubin Yes, you are on target. Interesting I "assumed" that fit with my executive summary idea...and Yes. #13 it is.@

claudyne
claudyne

 @Milaspage You are so on target.  Yes, it is very frustrating when you listen to someone and know you could have told them how to be more focused on the audience. How many reps give you an overview of how they see your culture and then ask you to comment on that list in terms of expanding it, changing the priorities etc? @Milaspage 

claudyne
claudyne

 @WineEveryday Hello, I love your GYM comment. You know they tell you in the gym to do aerobics at the almost breathless state where you talk in short bursts. Maybe that's what happens to presenters. Breathe wise, they get themselves in the aerobic state of talking and they do not even feel that inside. @WineEveryday 

TedRubin
TedRubin

 @claudyne I mean the Senior Mgmt you will be presenting to. I view the Exec Summary as a summary of what you are presenting, not who the Execs are :-)

 

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