When you’re presenting to a C-level audience, you’ll need both a great presentation and thorough preparation.
Senior executives, also known as a C-level audience, can be the hardest audience to crack that you have ever faced. That’s largely because executives place a premium value on their time. Therefore, if you’re not quick and on point, they’re likely to start interrupting your well honed presentation. Waste their time, and you will almost never recover your reputation with them.
Whether you’re presenting your company’s story to a group of investors or trying to make a big B2B sale, what happens before the presentation is almost as important as the presentation itself.
For example, prepare your presentation carefully. Check your data, especially the numbers. Never, ever make a presentation to a C-level audience with inaccurate data.
Once you’ve prepared your presentation, practice in front of a mirror until you know your presentation material inside and out.
Talk About Your C-Level Audience Before You Talk About Yourself
Focus on how your C-level audience will benefit from the solution you’re proposing. In this way, they will be more likely to engage with you and your presentation immediately.
Summarize up Front
Let’s suppose that you have 30 minutes to present your innovative ideas. If that’s the case, prepare your talk so that you can present the basic facts up front in only five minutes. Talk about high-level findings, analytical data records, conclusions, and recommendations. Include a powerful call to action in your upfront summary.
Create Summary Slides
Create a deck of slides that contain a brief overview of your presentation. Use these slides along with your upfront summary.
For example, if you have 50 slides that accompany the remainder of your presentation, create five to seven summary slides to use at the beginning.
In this way, you’ll engage your C-level audience from the very beginning.
Additionally, keep your appendix slides at the ready. You don’t want to miss the moment if an executive makes a decision in the middle of your presentation. This could happen, and your appendix slides could help to quickly answer any question that might come up during this process.
If you are not skilled in visual design, use PowerPoint templates. These are already crafted for your presentation purposes so that you can just focus on the content of your message.
Get Feedback Before the Final Delivery
Before you give your presentation, ask a trusted a colleague to give you some feedback. Choose a colleague whom you trust to be completely honest with you. You’ll want to know whether your presentation is clear and complete as well as concise. Ask your colleague their honest opinion as to whether your presentation covers all the bases. Your friend’s feedback is an integral part of your preparation.
Understand Executives and Their World
The members of the senior executive group live their lives in a pressure cooker of stress. They cope day-in and day-out with a heavy volume of fast-paced decision-making, horrendous travel schedules and more. If they’re present at your presentation, you should treat it as a privilege.
Show your audience the respect they deserve. Be prepared to be flexible and to improvise. Show them that you appreciate the time restraints they’re under.
Focus on the “Why” Rather Than the “What” for Your Conclusions
Present data, facts, and opinions in your presentation. Wrap up with your recommendations. However, your C-level audience will not be interested in how you came to your conclusions. Stress your recommendations firmly while pointing out their benefits or implications for your audience members.
If anyone in your C-level audience has a question about how you reasoned things out, they will ask during the Q&A portion.
While confidence is the key to success when you’re presenting to a C-level audience, strategy and content are also critical. Busy executives don’t have time for poor presentations. So give them the most confident, energetic and innovative presentation you can. Stand tall and be expansive. Actively listen throughout, so that you can continuously improvise as your C-level audience requires.