Large projects, and thus also ideas for an event, are often screened by the management committee. But, how do you give a convincing presentation to the top management of your company? Sylvie Verleye is presentation coach, and today, she gives practical tips on how to survive the management team.
Hi, Sylvie. Welcome to our studio.
A lot of projects and events need to pass the management committee to get approved. That's a lot of stress for a lot of people. How do you start with that?
Often the problem, when you have to present to a board of directors, is the timing. Because, upfront, they give you a timing of, like, 20 minutes, sometimes even half an hour, to get your message across. And, when you are there to do your presentation, they ask you, "Can you just go to your last slide and present that... cause there are the conclusions." That's really a question that some of the participants that I had, she had that question, and it didn't work for her. So, you just have to be prepared, that you have to get your message across in only five minutes.
But how do you that?
Well, the problem is, how do you structure your presentation? Because, now we tend to structure our presentation because that's what we think we should do, using an agenda. That's slide number two. And, then we have, like, five to seven bullet points. These are the topics that I will talk about, to explain them, and to end it with the conclusions. You're in trouble when you do it like that because if that's what you aim to do for 20 minutes, and then you have to do them in five minutes, I see people rushing through the slides, skipping some slides, it doesn't work. So, you need another structure. What I advise people to use is actually a known structure. It's the Minto principle. It is the pyramid structure.
Yeah? And, how does this work?
The main, well, the main difference between an agenda and a pyramid is that, well, first of all, you limit your pyramids. Like, ideally, three. Three is a magical number. And, especially what you put on top of the pyramid. It's not about topics. It is your key messages. So, your first question, when you prepare a presentation is, "What is my objective?" "What is my end goal with this presentation." "and how will I reach that goal?" So, if you want to... let's say the typical presentation, the company presentation. You should not talk about how good you are, how great you are, how international you are. It's not talking about, "We, we, we." It's thinking of, "How can we solve a problem for them?" So, it's the wiify, what's in it for you. It is the you that is important. So, what you put on top of the pyramids, What can you give to them?
And, that's where you start with? And, then you can go in-depth if there are more questions, for example?
Yup. So, you build your five minutes and you build your pyramids like, kind of, closets. Three pyramids are three closets; starting with your main point, the main thing that you want to get across. And, then, you have, like, drawers that you can open. And, if you prepare that, actually, for 20 minutes, you can open, like, five doors. But, if you only have five minutes to get your message across, you have to keep some drawers closed. You only open two doors. And, that's the way that it works extremely well because it's a really flexible structure that way.
For my own experience with presentations for managements teams, I noticed that it's more about the questions that come up, rather than the presentation itself.
That's right because, these people, they want to ask their questions. Very often, upfront, they ask you to send the slides. And,... not all of them. But, some people actually have looked at these slides, especially the CEO tends to do that. And, they know exactly upfront what their questions are. So, they don't want to wait for your 20-minute presentation. They want to ask their questions. So, if you announce in the beginning, "Just give me five minutes to get my message across, and then I'd be happy to go into the details." What you have, as a result, is that you have a short, five-minute monolog, then you have a longer discussion, really giving them exactly what they want.
Okay. Now, we've touched the subject of slides. But... if you have to give a presentation, and you prepare it for five minutes, and then you have all the sub details, how do you structure that in a presentation?
Well, nowadays, I see that our powerpoints are actually powerpoint reports, it's, a kind of, a handout. And, I think, within 10 years, we'll still do that because that's, like, we are used to do it like that. If they ask you upfront to send the slides, that's the document they're talking about. It is not the visual slides with pictures and I don't know what. It is your facts and figures. So, that detailed report is needed. But, the fact that it is detailed makes it very difficult for you to tell your story because that's what it comes down to your five minutes, it's telling your story. And, they should listen to your story. You should have a connection with them. You need eye contact with them. And, if they can read the slides, which they will do...it's difficult to connect with them. So, I think it's a better idea to just use your slides; your detailed report as a kind of back up slides. So, you make sure that this is ready and you press B. You know B? In the PowerPoint?
The black out button.
That's it. Lots of people don't know that. Every speaker should know it. If you press B, you're in your slideshow, it is black. This means that you can do your story,... "This is the naked style." I like the naked presenter style. It is...
You have to dare that.
It's- the problem is that you need, a kind of, an experience as a speaker. But, if you get a hang of it, if you feel like, it is so easy to connect with your audience, it's really fun to do that. It's a book by Garr Reynolds, he's my presentation guru; The Naked Presenter. So, what he advises is why not just tell your story, and then, after your story, you need a question to open up the discussion. And then, you know that your backup slides are there, so when you get a question, you know that, "That's one of my slides." You go to your slide, just type in the slide number. That's another one that most speakers don't know. So, that's a way to handle it. But of course, you can use slides during your story; but then you have to look at it like, "How would I draw this on a flipchart?"
Yeah, because a lot of people just use them as a reminder for what they need to say. It's a projected cheat sheet... and it's a pity... because then they have a connection with their flip chart, but not with the audience. Connecting with your audience; that's what it's all about. You can have a great story. You can have amazing slides. But, if you fail to connect, it doesn't work. So, that's rule number one. Come close to your audience and look at them... really- pouring a glass of wine. You know, when you compare it like that? Lots of glasses are empty. Some people get just a drop of wine. Fill that glass with wine. Really connect with them. Yeah. It's like having a jet with friends. It's a bit the same.
That's a lot more fun than [laughs] than doing a boring presentation.
It's just like how you do it with friends, if you just sit around the table... and you tell a story. You know, you look at different friends telling you a story... That's what it comes down to. So, if you are very conscious of how you do it over there; just dividing your eye contact and just telling your story. That's how you do it. If you talk to a board this well, you have more nerves, of course. But, the thing is, come close to them. You know, if we're having a chat, we're not going to sit far away. We come in closer. We're connecting. That's what you should do. Do the same over there. But, you need your story, of course, and you need to prepare that story. And preparing five minutes is less time consuming than knowing you have to talk for 20 minutes.
That's true. And, you are writing a book on this? This topic?
I am. I've written my first book on presentations like five years ago. So, I thought like, many people have to present to a board and there are lots of difficulties there. I felt like, "Okay. I feel ready to write a new book about it." So, after the summer time; I'm going to write whole summer, and the idea is, after the summer, I have my new book, specifically for those people who have to present to a board of directors; how to do that.
I look forward to read it, Sylvie.
Thank you for coming over.
And, you, at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next time.