You need to prepare for a presentation in front of the senior leadership team. You know that your ideas and plans are good but do not know what to expect as a reaction from the senior leadership team. Are they going to buy your ideas and dreams? Would you get funding to achieve what you have in your head?
These and other similar questions are in everyone’s head who needs to plan and budget a change to make people happy.
And while this type of presentation looks like every other, people standing in front of the senior leadership team often fail to get what they have planned to ask for and get something similar or much different.
Does this sound familiar If NO, you are one of the lucky thirty-two percent of the people(according to an Inc.com research) who can always convince the senior management to invest in their ideas. Unfortunately, many of us have a lot to learn to get to where we want at the end of the day. Some fifteen years ago, I was in the same situation, with good ideas but almost no success selling them to the senior leadership team. As a result, my ideas were presented by more experienced people, who got the credit for that. That frustrated me, but I wanted my ideas to get to the people. So I hired a presentation consultant, then a second one, and nothing changed. Then, back in 2008, I became part of a company where the owner was the CEO. After one of my presentations in front of him and the senior leadership team, I got YES for everything that I have presented, but after the meeting was over, the CEO came to me and said: “Your presentation was not so convincing as I have expected, but if you need help with that I will be happy to invest some time.”
I took this chance and booked a two-hour meeting with him. But we finished in less than twenty minutes. The advice I have received then is helping me to get attention, be noticed, and win space and funding for my ideas and plans even today.
If you feel the same way as I thought then, look a the five points that helped me improve my presentation skills and win the senior leadership team’s hearts every time from then to today.
Start with what it is for them
Sound easy – YES. Try to calmly explain what from your idea will be beneficial for the senior leadership team and see how difficult it is. Many people start to present what the senior leadership team will win from that idea, but then fast they move to what anyone else will win. The first point is to focus on what your vision will give the senior leadership team. My last project was to implement a digitalized platform for HR processes in our company. The cost was almost a hundred thousand euros. I needed only ten sentences to convince the company owner and the CEO that we have to do it. How I did it? I did not talk about what the employees will get due to the implementation or how this will impact the HR department. Instead, I explained the benefit for each of my listeners. My strongest arguments were time-saver and various instantly delivered reports for the personnel with just one click. So, if you want to win the senior leadership team, start only with them. Do not interfere with what your idea will bring for you, other people in the company, or the clients, suppliers, etc. Please focus on the single what will come out for them.
Picture the future success
While the first part points to the win for the senior leadership team, you will need to expand on it and bring more information to the table. Some call this “the big picture”; I call it “the better future.” This element of the presentation needs to focus on describing the picture of success in the future. For example, how will everything in the company change after you have implemented the difference, people’s reactions, how will the process be changed, and what will this lead for senior leadership. This comprehensive picture is the future of today’s situation. Through it, you can show the general value of your idea. The picture of future success is also helpful to point on how the realized vision will impact everyone at every stage in the company and why you need the funds to execute it.
Give broad picture
Here is where you add additional information about the picture of success. Expand what you want to say in a direction all employees, external partners, and surrounding society. Many presenters cannot overgrow the comfort zone and only talk about the small wins for everybody around them. The senior leadership team does not need that. These people want to see the broader impact and how this impact affects everyone and everything simultaneously. Describing a general picture means to focus on “What is in for society, the company and after that employees.”
You thought we might have forgotten the minor tweaks that will show after the change or the initiative is implemented. The senior leadership team needs the details, but only after the presenter has revealed the big picture. Because the big picture is a starting point for the listeners on what elements the presenter must focus. What you think may be important could end up being suspended from the presentation. What details will be given depends on what is essential for the senior leadership team to see. For example: When I presented a new HRIS in front of the senior leadership team, I have had many details: How this system will help my department, how it will impact the employees’ wellbeing at work, etc. But what was necessary for one of the company owners was the detailed reports he can get for the overall company health and employees from the system with a click of a button. When I gave these details and made him happy, permission to implement software and a platform that costs a hundred thousand euros was granted for me. The owner did not need to listen to every small detail , but he needed to hear about the essential information for him. The presenter should listen to what is necessary for the senior leadership team and give them only the details to solve their problems.
Point on how this will help you and them
When you present in front of the senior leadership team, you will need to summarize – a lot. A good presentation is nothing if you do not summarize what everyone will win. But still, while the time is short, the main point is to return the senior leadership team to how you will help them and you. After all, you have started the presentation to make them feel like winners and win something for yourself and your team. What is most important for the senior leadership team understands that what you are presenting will help them achieve higher company goals. The senior leadership team is not directly involved in the day-to-day activities. Still, people in this team need the information on how what is presented will positively impact the broader company goals and then the local teams’ performance, productivity, and engagement in the long term. Being direct and supporting what is presented with examples and assumptions is the iceberg’s peak where you have almost sold your idea to the right people. The tweaks in this last part are only to confirm that what is presented will be valuable for everyone in the chain – from the senior leadership to the previous employee on the company’s ground floor. At this stage, the real value of what is presented makes or breaks the deal.
No matter the topic, presentations are the tool to win support for ideas, projects, and strategic activities for the company’s good. Focusing on the needs of the senior leadership and delivering the presentation in a way that wins them is crucial if you want to change something in the company for good.