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Building and Delivering High Stakes Executive Presentations

  1. War Stories from the God Pod: Strategies for successfully landing high stakes Executive presentations Matt Baker @mattwbaker
  2. As you Prepare
  3. 3 Companies, like Countries, have Cultures Inglehart–Welzel cultural map of the world Spend time observing what works and what does not Through observation you can uncover a company’s presentation culture
  4. 4 But like Countries, Companies have dialects At Dell Technologies, we have many presentations dialects driven by organization sub-cultures. Some examples: Org A: • Data dense • Sparse visuals • Operational, Answer first focused Org B: • Sharp aesthetics • Conceptual • Emotive Org C: • Chart/Graph rich • Sharp aesthetics, restrained palette • Storyflow biased
  5. 5 Find “The Executive Whisperer” and enlist them as your presentation mentor Praveen Asthana My first boss at Dell was known widely as the “Executive Whisperer”. His presentation secrets, amended with a few of my own: • Its all about flow; meticulously craft your storyline • Aesthetics are important; dress your presentation for success • Cut the fat, put your slides on a words and figures diet • In language, why spend a nickle when a penny word will do • Every presentation has a “Finger Roll”, keep it odd 3s or 5s • Mine sweep your materials • Less is more, cut cut cut out the content to the minimum required
  6. 6 Sophistication is Overrated “Big thoughts”, complex models, pedantic or fussy language is a real turnoff for executives. As another mentor once said, “the smart quota was filled before you got there”. Focus on making complex analysis as simple as possible. Simplicity is hard work, but the effort is well worth it: • Avoid even simple “academic” language, e.g. R2 • Invest in “clean” visualization tools, e.g. Mekko, Thinkcell • Learn the art of the big animal • One slide, one message, make it count
  7. 7 Answer First… …You First!!!
  8. 8 Answer First? Let’s talk about that some more • Executive summaries are best as a more formal agenda – Detailed summaries are the worst; the fastest way to get pinned down on slide #1 • My advice pretend to answer first, but don’t literally answer first – This is particularly true if the topic is controversial. – An answer without context is red meat in the boardroom • Deploy the Triptych – Executive Summary -> Tell them what you will tell them – Presentation Content -> Tell them (In detail with all of your supporting facts) – Closing -> Tell them what you just told them (and always include a call to action)
  9. 9 Remember the Scout Motto 7p’s 1. Proper 2. Prior 3. Planning 4. Prevents 5. Piss 6. Poor 7. Performance
  10. 10 You are NOT this person… Mind your style: • Avoid emulating outside styles and voices • Your style should be like a good suit, tailored to you • This is NOT a performance, it’s ideally a discussion. • If you know your material cold, your own voice will shine through • Be confident, you were invited to speak for a reason
  11. Once you are there
  12. 12 The C-Suite: They are called General Managers for a reason • You will always have superior factual firepower for a given topic • The Executive Leadership team, however, always occupies the contextual high ground • Protect your flank from organizational politics…know the battlespace and manage it • If you organization’s culture supports it, pre-wire your advocates but especially your anticipated antagonists • Again, mine sweep…there is ALWAYS a savant who is just looking to “Stump the Chump”
  13. 13 “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face” Mike Tyson
  14. 14 …And that punch in the face is inevitable • Collect yourself and stick with your gameplan, it’s the job of “general management” to be skeptical and to pressure test you • Never “Wing It” when answering a question or a challenge, if you don’t know the answer just admit it, take an action, and move on • Don’t be the “Yes Person”, agreeing to every objection… Nobody likes the “yes person” and invariably it will hurt your credibility. Acknowledge their position, but push back • If you are confident in your position, respectfully push back HARD. If you have prepared adequately, you probably anticipated the punch and have a ready response. Use it • If your response is accepted, great. If it is not, keep pushing back…but there is a limit. Read the room carefully, and back down if you are “in irons”…return to it later
  15. 15 3c’s 3c’s 3c’s • Calm • Cool • Collected Be the King of Cool
  16. Questions???
  17. Thank you & Good Luck! @mattwbaker