Executive presence is essential to stand out in your organization. It frames your other credentials. If you had a beautiful painting, it would be a shame to use a cheap frame, detracting from the wonderful artwork. Executive presence is like the frame. It can enhance or diminish. When an executive with presence speaks, others listen. Every time you are in front of your senior management, they judge whether you have what it takes to step up to the next level. Not only your technical ability but also the very important aspect of projecting yourself confidently.
Paint stories from your data
One very common mistake seen in presentations is the data-dump. Executives, especially from finance or technical backgrounds, often cram charts and number-packed tables into their PowerPoint presentations. While there is no doubt that data is important, a key question is, “How relevant is it to the audience you are facing?” Senior management are usually pushed for time and want to get to the point, make a decision and move on. Instead of reciting this quarter’s financial data slide-by-slide in great depth, step back and ask yourself, “What is the story behind these numbers?” By all means show charts and tables on a slide or handout, but while you are in front of senior management elaborate on them. Use these questions to turn data into an anecdote: What are the implications of the numbers? What does this mean for the business in the next quarter or year ahead? What actions need to be taken? What decision needs to be made as a result? By then answering those questions you will move towards what the numbers mean for the business. Help senior management see the trends, the big picture and the direction emerging. They will appreciate the extra clarity of your presentation.
What can you do to move away from data-driven presentations? Take a look at your next presentation and find the story that the numbers are telling.
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