Speaking in front of your superiors can be tough. Many people see this endeavor as a death sentence. In fact, holding a proper presentation on the most challenging topics can actually be an opportunity for you to advance in your career. However, to succeed you must enter the meeting prepared. Attitude and determination are traits you should possess too. Don’t allow emotions to get the best of you, and use them to your advantage.
Send a message
Before entering the meeting, ask yourself this: what’s the point of my speech; what do I want to achieve with it? It’s really important to begin a presentation with a goal in mind. Make sure your speech has structure and meaning. Everything you say must flow. Board-level presentations are challenging because they usually have a purpose. Employee may want to ask for a raise, and to get one they must discuss to their superiors and prove that they’re capable for a better position in the company.
During a meeting with CEOs, employees or subordinates in general must walk in with as must determination as possible. Start strong and engage the audience from the first couple of minutes. Seniors executives are less forgiving, so if you’re not sure about something, avoid it. You can win their confidence by following a crystal-clear direction. Always keep in mind that executives are used to these presentations; some deal with them on a daily basis, and are often tired to hear the same thing over and over again. After the meeting has started your want the board of directors to listen to what you have to say, not their assistants. Gauge their attention with power words. Be determined, 100% sure of your speaking abilities, and prepared.
Value the time you have available
A senior manager or company executive doesn’t have a lot of time to spare. Their jobs put them in charge of numerous other endeavors, so their time to listen to you is limited. Be ready to cover whatever you have to say in the allotted time. Finish your speech faster and leave room for questions or discussions. Always have a plan of action, speak with calmness and poise, and keep things factual. Even if you’re covering a difficult topic, you must be able to explain it in simpler terms.
Be prepared with solid data
Speaking in public can be easy for some people. However, you can’t always base your presentation on chitchat. It doesn’t work like that when dealing with senior executives, managers and CEOs. Don’t avoid answering the question of a superior during a board-level presentation. Executives are great at finding gaps in your content. Their main goal is not to discourage you, but rather make you understand that every unfounded claim or allegation comes with implications and consequences.
It’s always a good idea to anticipate questions. You can do that by recognizing what type of content may be predisposed to further questioning. Make sure you come prepared with supporting data on parts of your presentation that may appear unexpected, counterintuitive, challenging or unexpected. Additional information may be required in case an executive is not satisfied with the data you offered in the first place.
Nothing beats preparation
Preparation is the mother of all tips when speaking in front of a board of directors or executives. The more you know the subject under discussion, the better chances you have to make an impression. For many people, an opportunity to hold a speech/presentation in the presence of senior management comes once in a lifetime. Seize the moment but don’t take unnecessary risks. Create back-up slides to convey a message, keep the presentation short and to the point, and by no means beat around the bush.
Preparation makes you feel confident regardless of the nature of the situation. You can also take help from guest speakers. Board-level presentations may appear intimidating. In fact, they are intimidating. CEOs and executives will probably ask all sorts of tricky questions in an attempt to see if you can handle them. Don’t let them daunt you with problematic scenarios, and speak your mind. Say what you want to say, but make sure your allegations are backed up by solid facts. This way you are sure you’ve made an impression on them, even if you won’t see them flinch.