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How to present to executives


Presenting to executives raises unique challenges for presenters. They are busy decision-makers who have little time and very high expectations, so a successful executive presentation requires a different approach than you might take with other audiences. Not only do you need your information and slides to be tight, you need a memorable story and the ability to think on your feet.


In this guide on how to present to executives, we’ll help you understand the demands of this unique audience, hone your slides and story, and offer some guidance for managing the room. With these key strategies and practical tips, you can excel in your next executive presentation and leave a lasting impression.


Understand Your Audience

To understand how to make an executive presentation that works, you need to understand what makes them so unique. Executives are typically incredibly busy people focused on strategic goals and big-picture thinking. This hectic schedule and big-picture perspective means that they tend to respond to concise and focused messages.


For the presenter, that means you need to boil your ideas down to the core message. Be brief, be direct, and be bold.


While many executives share this preference, they don’t all want to see the presentation the same way. Each individual audience will have their own preferred presentation style. Some may prefer data-driven presentations with clear metrics, while others may respond better to storytelling and case studies. By adapting your approach to their preferences, you can make it easier to connect with your audience and highlight your message in the best way possible.


Craft Compelling Visuals

Visuals are a powerful tool for executive presentations, as they can quickly enhance understanding, capture attention, and make your message more memorable.


Overall, simplicity is key. Break down your data into easily digestible charts or graphs, use icons and visuals to represent concepts and ideas, or just swap out written content for images. Your goal is to avoid cluttered slides and focus on clean and appealing visuals that support your narrative.


To take your slide designs even further, you can consider the strategic use of color and typography to create visual hierarchy and emphasis. This can mean selecting colors that align with your brand or evoke the desired emotions, or using font styles and sizes that enhance readability.


Consistency in visual elements throughout your presentation will create a cohesive and professional impression, and keep your audience focused on what matters most: your content.


Tell a Captivating Story

If your visuals are the hook that draws your audience in, your story is what keeps them there. That’s why one of the most effective ways to engage executives is by telling a captivating story through your presentation.


Your story is the main idea you want to convey, and all the context that helps you get there. The simplest way to tell it is to structure your presentation with a narrative arc that guides the audience from the beginning and keeps them engaged until the end. Build a logical flow and storyline that connects the various sections of your presentation. Each section should build upon the previous one, with the endpoint as the conclusion you want to emphasize.


To enhance and customize your story, you can incorporate anecdotes, real-life examples, or case studies that illustrate your key points and make your message relatable and memorable.


Remember to balance the emotional and rational aspects of your story. While emotions can be powerful drivers of decision-making, executives also value data and evidence. Present a mix of qualitative and quantitative information that supports your narrative and helps executives make informed decisions.


Conclusion

Presenting to executives is challenging, but learning the basic concepts and skills can help you stay in control of any presentation. By understanding your audience, crafting compelling visuals, and telling captivating stories, you can create presentations that resonate with executives and leave a lasting impact.


Remember to keep your messaging concise, focused, and aligned with executives' priorities. Prepare for potential questions and challenges by anticipating their concerns and addressing them proactively. Practice and refine your presentation skills to ensure a confident and compelling delivery.


More from VB

Looking for more information about presenting to executives and beyond? Check out our resources for expert advice and tested strategies.

About the author

Kyle Kartz is the Creative Director of Storytelling at VerdanaBold. He is an expert copywriter and strategist, with experience driving major campaigns for global brands in multiple industries. He is passionate about communications, the outdoors, and cooking.


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