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How do I make presentations to executives?

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Presenting to executives and senior management requires special considerations

How do you make that all important presentation to executives and to senior management? Well, before we get into it, my name is Shola Kaye, and I’m a speaking coach and also professional speaker based in London with clients all over. But, how do we make those presentations to the big wigs, the important people who may be able to determine whether they buy out a province gets bought, whether we get that job we’re looking for, whether some big project goes ahead or not?

Use strategies for brief and effective communication

I’m going to teach you a simple framework that you can use when you’re working with executives. And, the important thing is to remember with executives is they do not tend to have a lot of time. When you are presenting to executives and to senior management, you want to cut to the chase pretty quickly. What that means is you don’t have the opportunity to perhaps tell a long winding story before you get to the beef or to the real juice of your presentation.

You can use the BLUF framework

What you want to do is instead use a framework which is called the bluf B-L-U-F framework, which stands for bottom line up front. And, what that means is you cut straight to the chase. If you are there to make a recommendation, before you go into any of the supporting detail, you tell them we are going to make a recommendation today that you do this thing. You get straight to it, and then once you’ve told them the real beef, the real this is what we recommend. Then you can add some supporting information to that. But, if you go around the winding road and well, I want to tell them this first, and then that, you will probably find yourself being interrupted. You’ll be perceived as somebody who doesn’t get to the point. Okay, so very important to, to get straight to it.

The framework helps you communicate clearly and precisely

And, then you can backtrack a bit and then share why you’ve made that decision or what the data said that led you in this direction or stories or whatever it might be that supports that recommendation that you have. But, if you don’t get to the crux of it at the beginning, you will probably find that you won’t even make it all the way through your presentation. Because, as I said, top executives tend to not have a lot of time. They will be cutting into your presentation with questions, good law, and those questions could throw you off. Right? Imagine you’re trying to make a presentation. You’re feeling a little bit nervous about it anyway, and then you’ve got these senior people just throwing questions at you, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. That can serve to make you feel even less stable. Getting there, tell them what it is that you’re there to say, make your points immediately.

You start strong with the main point and then allow for them to follow up with questions

And, then they can ask questions, and the questions that they’re asking, they might be questions about your supporting materials. And, then you can just throw in those bits as needed, or they might say, “Well, why did you make that recommendation?” And, that’s where you go back to all the preparation and the kind of supporting information, and that’s when you share that. Hope that helps.

When speaking to senior managers remember to get straight to the point

But, a couple of things to think about with senior management, one, as I said, get straight to the point. The second one is to have a gravitas. What I mean when I say gravitas, I mean that kind of not necessarily that you’ve got to be deathly serious, but there’s a presence and there’s a weight and there’s a confidence when you speak and you are seeing yourself on the same level as these executives that you’re speaking to.

Speak with gravitas to be effective

Because quite often, when we’re with people that are more senior than us, we feel that we’ve got to, I forget what the word is really, but we’ve got to be a little bit subservient or we’ve got to show that we have respect for you and I’m below you. And, we tend to bow and scrape a little bit like, huh. And, quite often that isn’t the way. That’s not the best way to be, because often when we’re with senior people, they want to know that their time is being spent with other senior people like them. The more we act like we’re in control, we’re confident, we have gravitas the more seriously they are going to take us.

It’s wise to adapt your style to your audience

Now, of course you are going to get a few people who are on an ego trip and they want someone who’s going to bow and scrape and be like, oh yes, of course, Mr. So and So. Yes… Madame this. Sometimes you’re going to find that you’re with people like that, and fair enough. If you want to play that game, you know them better than I do, right? If you need to play that game, play that game.

Using the framework will help you present with presence

But, quite often to be taken seriously, you need to act like you’re a serious person. That combination of that cuts to the chase framework and having a bit of gravitas and seriousness and presence when you present will take you a long way when you’re presenting to senior management.

Thanks a lot for listening and I’ll see you next time. Take care.

Shola Kaye is an award-winning speaker, author and professional speaker coach with clients around the world. Her work has been mentioned in Forbes, Harper’s Bazaar and on the BBC.
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