This is a guest post by Vivek Singh. He is a marketing manager by profession. He is also the author of the popular blog www.allaboutpresentations.com. Visit his blog for useful tips on presentations.
Making a presentation to top management is very different from making a presentation to the middle/junior management. Today we will try to understand what exactly this difference is and how to successfully present to top management.
Present the conclusion at the very start
In school you would have written a précis. A précis is a summary of the main points of the story. You need to do the same thing for your top management. First you make the presentation the way you normally do. Then add an empty slide at the very start (let’s call it the summary slide). Run through your presentation and put down the main points on this summary slide.
Top management is not here to listen to the complete story. You cannot afford to build the argument gradually and reveal the conclusion at the end. Instead put the conclusion at the start. Then go on and explain how you arrived at this conclusion. Your audience will ask for explanations and details wherever they need. You need not provide too much information. Remember, less is more with the top management.
Time is money
Be short and sweet. Do not be slow and do not repeat your points. Your CEO is always busy and cannot manage to sit through hour long presentations. Neither does he have the time nor the attention span. You need to share everything you have to say in crystal clear terms and then leave the questioning to the CEO. Whenever he seeks explanation, you can go in-depth.
The success of your presentation can be measured by a simple question. “If your CEO remembers the top 3 things you said during the presentation and why you said those things; you have done a great job.”
Use Back up Slides
When you present to the top management use what is called a ‘Back up Slide’. Suppose you are presenting on cost cutting. You have done a lot of study and your presentation talks about your 5 findings; the areas your organization is losing money and how to cut costs in these areas.
You have made detailed calculations to arrive at these findings. Your presentation has these findings and then you go on to recommend cost cutting measures. You are not going to present these detailed calculations (which led you to the findings) else the presentation will stretch for hours. In such a case, keep these calculations ready on a slide (place it after the last slide). You might be asked to prove your findings, in which case you can open these back up slides. These slides support your findings. They are to be presented when your findings are being questioned and investigated in details.
Do not try to show you have worked hard
There is a strong urge in managers to show to the CEO that they have worked hard. Because they get to spend less time with the CEO they make their best efforts to impress him. This behavior leads them to fill their presentation with minute details. The number of bullet points is treated as directly proportional to work done. The more the bullets, the harder you have worked.
This needs to stop. What will impress the CEO is a simple presentation which shares the crux in a few slides and is backed up by solid reasoning. If your presentation gets your point across clearly, the rest will take care of itself.
Give a Handout
Your CEO will be busy with his/her Black Berry most of the time. He will check his mail and get urgent calls. Understand that there are more important things for him to do. It would be great if you carry a print out of the main points of the presentation. Make it no longer than one page. If you HAVE TO share some data/charts to back up your main points, then use Annexure. In the annexure, share the chart/graph; give a suitable heading and a one sentence summary of the chart.