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Take Charge of Your Presentations

How To Make Powerful Executive Presentations

In my last post, I wrote about how you build and strengthen your personal brand– to set you apart as a leader and on the ladder to professional success. Another powerful way to build your brand is to develop strong presentation and public speaking skills.

If that makes you shudder in anxiety, you are not alone. Very few people are naturally good at delivering a public message. It takes work – coaching, practice, knowing your material and most importantly, your audience.

Five Tips to Make More Impactful Presentations:

1. Focus on the audience: The message may be important, but focus first on the audience. Who are you speaking to and what do they need to hear from you. Remember the WIIFM principle where audience members are typically thinking ‘What’s In It for Me?’ As speech expert Steve Brown notes: “Generally, people are more interested in themselves than they are in you.” Keeping this in mind, tailor your choice of topic and your choice of language for your audience. For example:

  • If your audience is the CEO key interest areas are innovation and competitive position

  • If you’re speaking to the board, they typically want to learn about risk, forecasting, and market position

  • The CMO wants to hear about the competition, brand impact, market share, and new ways to attract customers

  • When talking to your own team members, they want to know how the company is performing and what they can do to personally help the company achieve its goals

  • Where applicable, speak with the meeting organizer earlier and ask if there are key areas where they believe you should focus. Where possible, single out individuals in the audience and mention their name and how they have helped you or are involved in the subject of your talk.

2. Have a powerful opening: Research indicates that audiences decide within the first twenty seconds of your opening, whether they will continue to listen to you. If you think they are tuning out, turn the tables on them and ask them a question or involve them in your talk through audience participation. I’ve found this quickly brings them back to attention.

3. Less is not just more, it’s the best: Boil your message down to three to five key points and focus on the most critical items for that timetable and for that audience.

  • If you are a technical person, don’t be tempted to throw out a lot of information at once to your non-technical audience.