Presenting to the C-suite? Here’s how to deliver a pitch that will knock their socks off.
Why do some presentations succeed while others fall flat?According to global CEO coach Sabina Nawaz, the key to delivering a pitch that hits the mark is to adopt a systematic approach. Writing for Harvard Business Review, she explains that “even seasoned leaders who don’t regularly interact with the C-suite fall into a few common traps that can be easily avoided”. Here’s how to turn pitfalls into stepping stones on the path to success.
FOUR WAYS TO IMPRESS
1) Begin with the problem. Top management hear good ideas all the time, but without context, they’re little more than hot air. To make your idea stick, you must first outline the problem that needs solving: “The more urgent your problem appears, the more eager your audience will be for a solution.”
2) Establish the benefits. Show how your idea addresses the problem in a way that goes beyond mere firefighting. Senior executives are looking for solutions which deliver a clearly defined return on investment without placing excessive demands on the firm’s financial and technical resources. You have to show how your solution would work in the real world, and how it would be “helpful to the company in the marketplace or against the competition”.
3) Leave time for questions. For a twenty-minute presentation, allot half the time to questions. While that might seem a lot, remember that when dealing with the C-suite, you don’t need to waste time over explaining things that will be obvious to them. A flurry of intense, positive questioning signals that your presentation went down well.
4) Be ready with the data. When the questions start flying, make sure you have accurate data at your fingertips. Nothing blights an otherwise excellent pitch like being “imprecise or sloppy with details when questioned, especially when it comes to numbers”. If you do give a wrong number, be quick to correct yourself, and if you don’t have an answer, don’t try to waffle your way through it; come clean and promise to follow up.
Simply by having the opportunity to present to the C-suite means you’re already a promising prospect in the eyes of those who matter. Nail your presentation and you’ll prove you’re just “as smart and capable as they thought”.