Engaging Executives – no big deal, right?

One of my fascinations with learning in the business context over the past 26 years, is that, whilst it might not sound ‘exciting’, the skill of being able to ‘present’ to others, is still right up there at the top of the list of things that can make or break you, as you rise through the ranks on your journey to stardom in business (whatever version of that appeals to you).

Let’s be honest; this is the quickest way to make a name for yourself to the maximum number of people, in the shortest amount of time. Let’s look at the context here…

  • This could be a simple ‘sit down’ one-on-one meeting with a peer or your boss
  • It could be ‘your time to shine’ at the board meeting in front of a dozen or so senior managers
  • It could be a virtual session to a small or even massive group
  • Or any combination of the above, or more!

‘It’s a senior group so I need to be dry and get straight down to business.’

For the past 20 years, I am very lucky to have been part of building a business around this, and many other core business skills…skills that are fundamental to your success as a business person, no matter what industry you are in, or what it is selling.

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But here’s the thing…how many do this well? My experience, based on feedback from many thousands of others, is that at a stretch, maybe 10% do a good job (your experience may be different – please let me know!). But here’s another thing…so often, whilst learners ‘get’ the need to story-tell in an engaging manner, as soon as the audience is ‘senior’ (whatever that means), business culture tells us to dull it down, detail it up, and most importantly, be most earnest about what you are saying.

So, to all those ‘senior’ managers out there (who have read this far!) – I apologise on behalf of any future presenters who seem to think this is the way to go.

Presentation as performance

I would like to point out that whilst ‘senior’ managers in business may be ‘busy’ (who’s not, anyway?), or may look at things through a different lens…in order for them to ‘come onside’ with your ideas, plans and dreams…first and foremost, you need to ENGAGE them. Whilst to some they may be highly evolved messiahs, in essence they are the same as you and me, (in that their bodily functions are similar!) and most importantly, they will process information through their (usually) 5 senses in exactly the same way as you and me. They may have different business needs, but fundamentally, they are just human beings, and as such will be motivated to buy-in to your ideas through a combination of thought and emotion.

Let’s get this executive party started!

So…next time you are asked to present to a ‘senior’ group, remember this; they will have unique business and personal needs, just as anyone else, anywhere in business. It’s your job as a presenter to figure that out, and then ‘tell your story’ that will engage them around your outcomes.

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If you would like to find out how, take a look at our website to find out more about how we can support you and your team with this essential business skill. If you have enjoyed this article, please like and share as appropriate.   

Alex Selwood 

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