Most people have reservations about presenting to their seniors. Here are some commonly held beliefs:
1. Seniors need serious presentations that logically flow from a detailed analysis of all possible factors to a conclusion
2. They like complex and hard-to-interpret data
3. A presenter needs to be modest when presenting achievements
Remember, seniors don’t have the time and patience to listen to long-winded complex explanations. Many times, you are not the only one presenting and so they rarely have the time to remember what you said, analyze it and draw a conclusion.
Here are three things that will make your presentation to your seniors a success:
1. Start with the end objective and build your case:
Your presentation should answer the all important question upfront “What do you want from them?” Do you need approval for a project? Do you need sanction for manpower?
Say what you want upfront and build your case from thereon.
Some presenters start with an elaborate context setting, and showcase the results of their analysis and numbers before they put forth their request. They end up losing the audience and the typical response they get is “Email your presentation to me and I will think it over.”
When you start with the end in mind, your senior audience has all the time in the world to weigh the pros and cons of the decision. You will get a clear “Yes” or “No” by the end of the presentation itself. If the answer is not favorable, you can redeem the situation by showcasing some more details. If you had chosen the other path of explanations first, you have no recourse but to accept their later decision.
2. Put the conclusion of your graphs in the slide title:
I have seen countless meetings going haywire the moment a graph or table is shown by the presenter.
A graph without conclusion is an open invitation that says – interpret this the way you want. So, you end up getting all kind of questions that waste the time you have for presenting.
If you put your conclusion of the graph clearly on the top, your audience reads the title and search for the evidence in the graph and moves on to the next slide. You avoid discussions that take your meeting into a tangent.
3. Put your achievements at the beginning and at the end:
Latest research in neuroscience reveals that people give more attention at the beginning and at the end of a presentation. What you show in the middle of your presentation is not absorbed with the same interest. So, what does that mean to you as a presenter?
Start your presentation with your best achievement first, if, for example you are showcasing your team performance, talk about their best achievement first. Conclude by showcasing your best achievements again. This way, the impression you leave in your audience’s mind is a positive one.
Though the list is not exhaustive, I hope some of the old myths on presenting to seniors are busted.