As a new executive, you are expected to be able to present your ideas to the board of directors. You also need to have team leader meetings to share strategies to improve your organization’s position in the market. All that sounds great, but you struggle with getting organized and being effective in conveying your ideas.
Many executives or managers who are asked to present in front of a group find themselves with an uneasy feeling in their stomach. Talking one to one comes easy. Becoming comfortable presenting is not something that just happens. Just because you can talk a lot doesn’t mean you can effectively share what you know or facilitate a meeting with peers. Great speakers have unique differences in their message while sharing common attributes.
How to Make Effective Executive Presentations
You are an executive working with your people to convey specific ideas or uncover solutions to common problems. You are not a public speaker delivering the same message to different people. There is a difference in the content and the intent of the message.
Preparation is the Mother of Learning
- Be sure you have the right message for the right people. Preparation for speaking is essential. Learning to prepare is a personal journey. I used to have two-day class material sketched out on one page of a legal pad after I did a four-page written outline. Other specialists had three-page typed notes. You have to find what works for you to organize the material.
- Jot down the topical subject matter in longhand. If you type up a paper vs. writing something longhand, it triggers different mechanisms in the brain. Longhand will connect quickly to the presenter part of the brain. Once you’ve mastered the long hand method, typing up trainer notes works like magic.
- Prioritize the principal subjects to make them flow with your thoughts. Depending on the presentation intent, length and purpose, list these key subjects and their sub-topics under each main heading.
- List two or three important points under each heading. If you’re trying to make too many points at one time, chances are your audience will struggle to grasp them.
- Speak out loud the entire presentation in a general speaking voice. Talk through the flow of the message and work to include the key subjects from your outline. Hearing the message out load is vital at this point. It helps to connect the message to the voice, so you listen to what you are saying. The brain absorbs extra content that will come through once you have your main points intact.
- At this stage, start looking at how much time the overall presentation is taking. Determine how much and where you want involvement so you can visualize the entire experience.
- Are you having fun? Have you included humor to engage your audience? As a teaching style, I always liked a lot of interaction. Other times a lecture style was required. It’s all subject to the intent and purpose of your presentation.
5 Tips On How To Present Your Information With Style
- A challenge speakers face is that if you get off track, it can be hard to mentally find your place again until you stop or take a break. Even seasoned speakers falter occasionally and have to regroup. So it’s important to start right to get into the groove of message you want to share.
- Prepare the opening lines to get on track with your message. It helps to get through any jitters you might be feeling by being very practiced. Rehearse and rehearse some more until it becomes second nature.
- Depending on how good you are, this starts to create blocks of presentation material. Present for 2 minutes non-stop. Then add more content so you can speak for 4 minutes. Keep increasing the level of material to fit the amount of time. These “blocks” of content then become tools in your knowledge base of delivery.
- Video yourself presenting is an excellent way to become great. Even seasoned pros do this to make the different body and language improvements. This method is also the start of any video or online communications that require teaching skills.
- Most speakers don’t like the sound of their voice. That’s easily explained from a psychological perspective, but that’s a whole other article. Just know you don’t want to not listen to yourself because of this nor do you want to fall in love with yourself. Balance my friend!
Learn to Present With Power
Listen To Yourself Carefully
- Are you saying what you want to say?
- Are you looking at the audience? Are you scanning them well?
- Is your body language speaking professionally and interestingly?
- Are you elevating your tone up and down? Learning to raise tonal inflection and at the right times allows the listeners to hear you better. If you have a monotone voice, that’s hard for most listeners to follow. You can have a great message that gets drowned out by the same sound level. Practice emphasizing critical points with an elevated tone if you speak softly.
- Once you are into a groove, draw long breaths and pause often. I was a fire and brimstone speaker and practiced slowing my speech down. You wouldn’t fall asleep in my classes. Your style may be different because executives come in all sizes and shapes.
- Don’t try to imitate other speakers. Be yourself and as I always used to say, find your voice. Each of us has a unique style of delivery.
Command Attention Through Story Telling
- Consider not using PowerPoint at all. There are other presentation tools that could be better suited for your style and messages.
- Too many great messages get lost when the presenter reads the slides. If you are an executive who does this, then I am confident your message gets drowned out based on your audience’s attention span.
- Learn to tell a story about what the slides content shows vs. reading the slide word by word. Remember why you are there in the first place. You want to engage the board or convey a specific idea to your team. You’re not a public speaker delivering the same message to different people.
- A lot of executives deliver a message that someone else created. Yea, I know why it happens, but I contend that the message gets severely diluted. The exec should be responsible for crafting the text he or she wants in the materials. They present it much better, and the learner learns it much better.
- If you try to cram every point into a slide, then you’re also expecting everyone in your audience to be active learners every moment you’re speaking. That’s not reality.
Building a team, solving problems or passing out awards to the high achievers in your organization all require you to present your ideas in a captivating way.