In our last blog, we focused on the importance of preparation when delivering a business review, and how critical it is that you adopt the big-picture mindset of senior executives. This post zeroes in on the fine art of delivery and engagement in the C-suite.
You’ll be most effective delivering business results to executives if you follow these tips:
Give the highlights, then focus on the future. First, if you’ve prepared your presentation from a leader’s perspective, you’re ready to tell them clearly and succinctly what you said you’d do last quarter, what you actually did, and what the results were (and why). Next, shine a light on what you’re doing moving forward based on those results. Spend as much or more time on future-focused plans and data points as reviewing earlier results.
Don’t shy away from bad news. If your results fell short, say so up front, clearly and honestly. Senior executives can see through hedging and equivocation. It’s always best to be transparent. They will respect you for it.
Listen deeply. Remember, you came to this business meeting prepared to deliver what senior leaders want: a dialogue, not just a data dump. Don’t be so rigid in presenting your results or your slide deck that you don’t stop and answer questions in the flow. One of our Master Facilitators, Stephanie Moore, worked with a corporate leader who wanted that kind of interactivity, but repeatedly didn’t get it from presenters. “He told me he even had people who, when he asked a question, would say, ‘Can you wait a second? I’ll get to that later.’” When an executive asks a question, answer it. Better yet, take time to make sure you understand what they’re really asking. Paraphrasing the question in response often helps to clarify. So does asking more penetrating questions to more deeply understand the executive’s concern or point of view.
Be ready to “dive into the weeds”—if they ask. The minutiae of your team’s work is understandably important and endlessly interesting to you and your staff; but generally speaking, executives want you to focus on a top-floor view. On the other hand, if one of them wants to do a data dive, be prepared to do so.
Keep your cool. “Here’s where business reviews are different than any other presentation you’ll make,” Stephanie says. “It tests every part of your business acumen.” What will you do if during your presentation, the executives careen off into a heated discussion? Or down an entirely different road, topic-wise? What if you realize that the discussion they’re having has more to do with politics than the plan? Or, what if you enter the conference room and are told that instead of 30 minutes, you now have 10? These are all very real and fairly common realities, and you need to be prepared to deal with them. First, don’t take it personally. Second, know that there are artful ways to manage the “chaos.” One of the best ways is to do enough check-ins throughout the meeting to keep things on track, and yet not shut down necessary dialogue. For example, if the discussion has veered way off topic, ask, “In the time we have left, would you like to table the balance of my report so we can continue discussing XYZ?” If your time gets cut short from the get-go, launch into the elevator-speech version of your results and leave the remaining precious minutes for what they’d like to ask.
Presenting results and asking for support from company leaders might be the most high-stakes moments of your career. From an executive’s point of view, you’re either helping to move the business forward—or not.
If you would like more help with high-stakes presentations, PowerSpeaking offers Speaking Up: Presenting to Executives®/Decision Makers for people who want in-depth training and practice in presenting to senior leaders. Check out our upcoming workshops. Unless otherwise noted, they are held in Redwood City, CA.
- July 18, 2019
- August 1, 2019
- September 12, 2019
- October 10, 2019
- December 5, 2019
We also offer a specialized program for people who need help in simplifying technical data for high-impact presentations, HighTechSpeaking®. We just added a special one-day preview version of this popular class, for those who can’t get away for the full two-day program, held in Redwood City, CA:
- August 8, 2019
Program dates for the two-day HighTechSpeaking® workshop for 2019 include:
- October 2 & 3, 2019 in Redwood City, CA
- December 4 & 5, 2019 in San Francisco, CA
To register, click here.
To contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the journey with you . . .
The PowerSpeaking Team