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Avoid These 4 Top Mistakes When Presenting to Executives

WRITTEN by: Bill Sterzenbach |
categories: Business Growth

Mar 2015


Getting an executive's ear can be a rare opportunity, don't waste it. Avoid these 4 mistakes and actually turn your audience with an exec into big results.

Apologizing. Sorry, Just Stop.

I know you're busy, so I promise to be quick on this one…

See? Didn't my promise to be quick come off as a bit needy? Basically, by promising to be quick I inferred that what I was offering has little value, otherwise I wouldn't be promising to blast through it. Don't promise to be quick when you have secured time with an executive. If you want to promise anything, promise value, don't promise to "minimize their loss". Honestly, don't promise anything, just do it. Finish your meeting when you say you will, bring valuable insight. Do this a few times and you won't need to promise anything.

Slow. The. Hell. Down.

Speaking quickly is another form of apologizing for wasting time. It says "I'm going to get through this as quickly as I can because I know you don't value this time with me. Stop that. Speak slowly and clearly. I'm not encouraging you to put your audience to sleep, but to be conscious as to how fast you are speaking and ensure that you are speaking at a normal rate.

Failing to Close. Always Be Closing

Great advice is universal. Every meeting should be with the aim to close something. Go into your meeting with an objective. What do you want to "close"? Do you want the exec to give you permission to run with an idea? Do you want hired for a project? Do you want a raise? Know what "next step" you need to happen and be prepared to ask for it.

Don't Be Passive Aggressive

The executive didn't read your agenda. She didn't read your email. She didn't see the spreadsheet attached to the meeting request. If she had, she probably would have ignored it. Be prepared for your exec to be totally unprepared. She prepared for the meeting by having a bazillion years experience at her job, that's good enough. Don't say things like "I should have been more clear that there was an attachment". They didn't miss your attachment, they ignored it. Get over it. If they need to review something in-depth before the meeting, you've already blown it.

Go Get 'Em

I hope this article made you super-nervous about your next presentation. You should be. I have found that people who aren't a little nervous prior to an executive presentation usually aren't smart enough to realize what's at stake. Be nervous, just don't be terrible. You can be nervous and present well. Give yourself enough time to create a mind-blowing, tight, action-oriented presentation and let it do the talking. For one helpful tip, try following Guy Kawasaki's 10/20/30 rule. This will help you to keep your thoughts tight and punchy. If you want a few tips before your next big preso, feel free to hit me up. Good luck!

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