I look forward to meeting all of you at WPC 2013 in Houston!  Based on the positive response to our ‘Presenting to Executives’ session last year in Toronto, we’ve updated the content and will offer it twice this year.

 
One of the biggest challenges when presenting to executives is how to capture their attention at the start.  While you are focusing on your presentation, the executive is dealing with dozens of issues on any given day.  So your first goal is to show them why they should pay attention to what you have to say.  They want to know “Why are we here?” and “What do you want from me?”
 
Too many presenters quickly dive in to the details of their presentation at the start, leaving the executives wondering where the content fits into their world.  To keep this from happening, after the appropriate amount of social conversation take 30-60 seconds to:
 
  • Discuss the purpose of the presentation.  Briefly provide some context and background on why they are meeting with you.  Are you there to discover their needs and present capabilities?  As a follow up to a meeting with other people in their company?  To present your proposal?   Don’t assume they remember all the details.
  • Reconfirm that the information you plan to present has value.  Give a preview of your content, plus any questions or discussion you want to cover.  While you may have set an agenda weeks before the meeting, things change.  Be sure your information is still relevant to them.
  • Communicate your “Ask”. Be clear on what you want from them – input, feedback, a decision.  You don’t need to explain the details of a specific request.  You can say something like, “What we’ll be asking for is your decision on which of the three options you’d like to move forward on.”
If you start your presentation covering these three items, you will get the executive’s attention, establish the value of what you are presenting and take the first step in moving the sale process forward.
 
I’ll share additional tips on presenting to executives in future posts.  For now, let me know what you do to engage executives at the start of your presentations.  And feel free to share your challenges and toughest situations.  We’re all in this together.
 
Dave Underhill