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How do I deliver a presentation effectively to an executive group?

Scott Gunn's Profile

I have the opportunity to present myself to company executives as part of a job interview. I was hoping people could share best practices in presenting to executives. How do I engage them? What are things that I should avoid?

Answers

Mircea Stanciu
Title: Finance Controller Central and Eastern E..
Company: BIC
(Finance Controller Central and Eastern Europe, BIC) |

Hi Scott,

I don't know how much time you have available to prepare.
Depending on that I can advise you to have a look at best TED speeches on You tube or to the every-year winners of world championship of public speaking, here's an example :. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUDCzbmLV-0

Visually you can better understand what these people do so great.

Engage the people by telling a story, asking a question, asking them to think about something, ask them to do something...like raise a hand if they agree or not with something you ask...you decide depending on the context...the room, the type of people they are...know your audience first of all. if you see they are doing something else, or talk between them, you can do a short pause and they will get the message you will continue if they start to listen...

First thing to avoid: do not try to appear to be something you are really not. they will spot it and you will not be credible.

You can still use some bold language to show your motivation and involvement: "I'll be damned if I accept a thing not properly done'' . this is high impact but be careful...

Open strong in a way to get their curiosity in the first sentence even. Close strong.
people will forget everything in between. And long after you present it they will forget what they saw, forget what they heard and they will only remember what they've felt.

to your success,
Mircea

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

Be yourself. Look for opportunities to show them how you can provide value. Relate how you have solved problems in the past. Think STAR. Present the SITUTATION or TASK you experienced, what ACTION you took, and what was the RESULT. By the way, the result does not always need to be a perfect resolution. Sometimes it provides a learning experience of what to do differently. We don't look at this as a negative.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Scott,

The preceding are great points. You didn't say how many executives, but whether it's 1 or 5, while speaking take a moment to:

a) collect your thoughts
b) if you don't understand the question, say so
c) engage both the questioner, but all the members of the panel by talking to each of them while answering the question; eye contact. When you are finishing, make sure you are making eye contact with the original questioner.

Topic Expert
Mark Sphar
Title: Chief Accounting Officer
Company: Veracity Payment Solutions
(Chief Accounting Officer, Veracity Payment Solutions) |

Great responses here. I would chime in to make sure you clearly answer all questions and then ask to make sure the person asking the question if they have any follow-up or understand your response. Sometimes nerves take over in those situations and folks end up talking a lot more than they need to and the answers get lost in the jumble. Good luck!

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

As an executive, nothing turns me off as someone who is a know it all and tries to go around questions that he/she obviously does not know the answer to.

If you do NOT know the answer or you are not sure about the answer, SAY SO and tell them that you will get back to them with the answer (and do it).

Second, do a QUICK backgrounder and go straight to the point. Respect the time of the executives. Just ask them if they have questions afterwards.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

All great tips here so I will add something not listed. I actually took a class about a year ago on effective presentation skills that was really awesome. One of the biggest for me was being prepared. What that meant was to read the presentation out loud at least ten times and preferably with an audience when you can. Many of us were like Duh, of course you should do that, however most of us also looked at each other and laughed because we were guilty of not doing it. We had become famous for throwing the presentation together last minute without much time to actually go over it. When you read it aloud with an audience you hear things differently, they may hear something and give you pointers and then you know it. So if you become lost in your notes; it's okay because you can keep right on going. One more suggestion is when you do read it aloud to an audience; ask them what questions t hey have. Add those questions into the presentation so hopefully your new audience won't have to ask them because you've already incorporated them into the presentation. This makes the presentation very solid and polished. Good luck! I'm excited for you and would love to hear how it goes!

Mircea Stanciu
Title: Finance Controller Central and Eastern E..
Company: BIC
(Finance Controller Central and Eastern Europe, BIC) |

great advice, very important, yes indeed it's important to prepare it, over time, polish it, re-polish it, actually I have read that some great speakers admit that they actually prepare 1 HOUR for every 1 MINUTE of the presentation. Might seem extreme but at least it's an indication. :)

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Scott
What do you mean by "present myself" to these executives?

Has the company provided you a format/structure for the meeting? If not, can you show your initiative by asking for one or offering to put an agenda together?

That may influence what you prepare for and how you prepare.

You may also get more pointed tips from these folk who have already commented above.

Best
Len

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

I agree with what Len Green has offered above.

For me, during an interview for a budget director's position I had to put together two different budget proposals to the hiring committee. I was given the scenario by the finance director and told how much needed to be cut from the proposed budget. Since I had an idea of what needed to be presented I was able to prepare. There's nothing wrong with asking, so that you can do your best for them, as well as yourself.

As for best practices, show them you're smart, but don't be arrogant. Assume they are smarter than you, even if you feel they aren't. Humility goes a long way. However, be yourself as suggested by Mark Matheny. If you aren't a humble person when it comes to a working environment it is best the company knows that before they offer you the position.

Even though they are interviewing you, you are also interviewing them. While you're presenting keep their nonverbal communication in mind. Are they disinterested in what you are saying, on their phone or tablet not taking notes, or are the engaged with what you're presenting.

If the interviewers aren't engaged it's either your material, or their personality. If it's their personality it could be dangerous going forward if you have to present something formally to them while you're an employee.

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