Impact Presentations for Board Rooms Considered

If you are going to give a presentation to the corporate board of a large company, you have to understand that they’ve already seen many presentations in their career, probably hundreds of them. They’re not going to be easily swayed by tricky lighting, or over-the-top power point presentations. They want facts, they want the reality, and they want you to answer every one of their questions to their liking.

If you fail to answer one of their questions you are doomed, and even if you answer the question, but you didn’t answer it correctly or you misinterpreted it, you will find yourself the brunt of their frustrations, and that could be a deal killer. The tone of your presentation and the tempo are very important, yes it’s important to dress nice, have professional literature, and be clear and concise with your presentation, but there’s more to it than that.

If you have the best product in the world, and you can prove it, even a boring presentation may get more play than a flashy presentation with no substance. However, if you can have the best of both worlds, that is to say an incredible impact presentation, along with a group of incredible folks with an abundance of industry knowledge, you can get to the heart of their questions, and answer them without missing a beat. Indeed if you can’t do this, you shouldn’t be there.

Put yourself in their shoes, if you had to listen to hundreds of presentations over the course of the last five years, would you want to listen to BS, monotone speech, or anyone who couldn’t answer your question? Patience may be a virtue in your church, and in your family life, but it isn’t in the high powered world of corporate boards.

Every question matters and everyone in that room’s opinion matters. So bring on the high-impact presentation, but don’t be na├»ve into thinking that you can come unprepared. You have to be on your best day, and you had better know what are talking about. Please consider all this.

Effective Presentations – The Second Step for Success

Building strong workable objectives is the second step in effective presentation planning. The emphasis is definitely on the word, workable. All our objectives have to be achievable by us, the speaker. And they have to be achieved in the time permitted with the audience’s involvement. Once we factor in the external pressures of time and audience it is imperative that we have the means to deliver — workable objectives give us the means.

Having good workable objectives is, therefore, an essential element of the effective presentation. Critically they fulfill 3 main purposes:

  1. Workable objectives provide us with a framework for success — giving us a quick embodiment of everything that we need to present.
  2. Workable objectives stop us from rambling and going off message — either when we plan, when we write or when we deliver our presentation.
  3. Workable objectives get us to where we want to be getting — serving as visible milestones of progress made and distance still to be covered.

But that is not all they do. Workable objectives have another overriding purpose in our presentation. Well outlined and understood objectives assist our audience to understand our presentation’s logic flow. They ensure that our audience is more likely to follow the presentation and remain captivated by the subject — whatever that subject might be. And that has to be the overriding reason why we invest time and effort in getting the right objectives.

In an earlier article we used a mission statement selected from a presentation given in the South West: “To ensure that the team understands the HR (Human Resources) consequences of factory closure.” It was a dry old subject, but typical of many presentation missions made every day in the work-place. With this mission statement we could expect some workable objectives along the lines of:

  • Set the scene for manufacturing optimisation.
  • Establish the productivity benchmarks for manufacturing progress.
  • Assess the options available and their impacts.
  • Describe and cost the HR (Human Resources) consequences.
  • Detail the preferred route for factory closure.

Our target should be some four or five workable objectives that can be handled easily and smoothly in a business presentation. Any more objectives than this, however, and you run the risk of exhausting your audience. It is a mistake that is most often found with the PowerPoint presentation style — where we are presented with multiple lists of objectives and issues at every stage. Too much detail at this early stage is not useful.

Our workable objectives should be short and sharp. And to the point.

They should stress action and focus on activity. Your choice of words is important, for they also convey important meaning for the audience. For the matter of the cardboard manufacturing plant we used the action words: set the scene, establish, assess, describe and detail. And they were probably appropriate for the circumstances. In a marketing presentation your workable objectives might include: research, develop, deliver, compete or gain share — action words which are well understood by the audience work the best. There is no room for misunderstanding.

Finally, once you have committed to your workable objectives, consider how they fit with your mission statement. Ensure that the two are in tandem and assist one another, bearing in mind how they impact upon an audience’s understanding and appreciation of our presentation. With the workable objectives settled, the next step is the planning of our presentation in more detail.

Plan to Create the WOW Factor with your Speech or Presentation

“Wow, what a fabulous presentation!” they said as they stood up after your speech. “Wow,” they said as they mingled after the event.

You, yes, you… WILL produce an impact.

What will it be?

Can you make it a “wow”?

Of course you can.

And the first step is to understand that it is not a mystery. It is something that you create. “Wow” is not an accidental by-product of a presentation. You create it deliberately.

The first thing to do is to define what it is that you want to create. What exactly is that “wow”? In other words, you need to define:

How will your audience respond to your speech or presentation?

What will they take away with them and remember?
What will they remember of you?

Why will they think “Wow what a fabulous presentation!”?

Start by defining the purpose of your presentation or speech. What do you want its impact to be?

You need to articulate whether you want to inform, persuade, inspire, motivate, entertain, shock… You may even want to do several of these things – in different parts of your presentation. But they must not be left to chance or you risk creating “Ho-hum… ” rather than “wow!”

Then define the message; the central message of your presentation – what one thing do you want the audience to take away? This message can be called a thesis statement or a theme. It can be given a number of names, but you need to be able to state it in one sentence. That way you will stay focused on that outcome when you are planning

When you have those two things articulated, the things you want people to remember, the impact you want to make; then you can create the structure and the language of your presentation to support them. The whole speech can be organised to reinforce that impact and that message.

The second of the questions was “What do I want them to remember of me?”

Who are you? How will you be remembered after this presentation? Are you professional, poised, articulate? Are you warm, folksy, creative, nurturing? Maybe you want to be seen as ballistic, confronting, no-nonsense, boot camp material. What message will your clothes and your grooming convey? What will your choice of language say about you?

You cannot be someone you are not, when you present, unless you are prepared to be a performer for the entire production. Insincerity will detract from your speech as quickly as a joke in bad taste. But you can present a side of yourself as the highlight – the side you want your audience to remember.

And the most powerful choice you will make is how you get that image to support your message – how you put the two together.

It may be totally supportive, in that the image is unobtrusive; seamlessly part of the message and the complete package – an incredibly effective combination.

Or you may choose to create an edge, a mystique.

Your body language, your facial expression and gestures, your clothes and your grooming all need to work towards the impact you choose to make. And they will contribute as powerfully to the impact you choose to make as a person as they do to the impact you choose for your presentation to make.

This package, this combination of impact, message and image are what people take away from your presentation. They are the wow you create.

But the pivotal word, there, was “choose” – the impact you choose to make, the impact you choose for your presentation to make.

Whatever you may be trying to achieve, don’t let the impact of your presentation be an accident. Right from the beginning, it needs to be part of the planning. When you are visualizing your production, toying with ideas and possibilities and first drafts, make the impact of you as a person and of your performance an integral part of that process. Visualise it and work it into all aspects of your production planning.

Then you have the foundation for creating the “wow” factor.