Most “business-y” jobs, whether for-profit or non-profit, involve business presentations. From the bottom of the org chart to somewhere in the middle, most people’s presentations are to their internal teams, customers, or occasionally, to leadership. But what about once you move beyond that middle layer? What about when you are leadership? Leadership communication has different resonances and ramifications compared to regular business communication, which means an executive like you could benefit from executive presentation training and coaching. Let’s look at three dimensions of executive presentations to explore how they’re different and how training can help.
People Have Higher Expectations of You Now
If you are the head of your division, an Executive VP, or a member of the c-suite, people within your organization know who you are, and externally, clients, customers, and competitors probably know you as well. A lot comes with your title: responsibility and accountability, yes, but also assumptions of expertise, higher compensation, and a measure of power. This leads to your audiences having higher expectations of your communication style and efficacy. What might count as success in a team presentation—getting the work done and making progress on projects and initiatives—is not enough for an executive presentation.
As you may know, we’re big fans of Suzanne Bates’s All the Leader You Can Be and the facets of executive presence she lays out. Executive presentations are a crucial opportunity for you to demonstrate your executive presence because that’s what your audience will expect. It’s easy to say, “be yourself,” but you need to add “only better.” You need to be the best version of yourself in front of your audience. You need to be authentic, demonstrate your integrity and empathy, and show appropriate restraint. At the same time, you need to be humble and make people feel confident in your authority. Achieving all of this while also managing the nuts and bolts of your content may sound daunting. However, with the right executive presentation skills coaching, you can manage both: delivering your crucial information in a way that’s clear and actionable while also embodying the executive presence that gives people confidence and reason to trust you.
The Stakes are Higher Now
Compared with an ordinary business presentation, the benefits of—or the fallout from—an executive presentation can be much greater. As a leader, you are not just speaking as yourself or your role; you’re speaking as your division, business unit, or company. This sharply decreases the margin for error in a presentation and increases the need to be clear about the what and the why of your presentation content. Google “leadership communication errors,” and the flood of hits is overwhelming. An error in an internal presentation at the team level might require an email to fix it. An error at the executive level might require a PR team and a market correction to be considered fully recovered. Targeted, customized executive presentation coaching is an upfront precaution you can take to prevent the kinds of errors that don’t end well—for you or your company.
You Are a Role Model Now
Even when an executive presentation goes well—when there are no flubs or areas of confusion—the stakes are higher because of the influence the speaker has on the future of the company. What I mean here is that people listen differently to executive presentations. They automatically connect what is being said to the company’s overall strategy, culture, and brand. They look for hints of your vision for the future in what you say. As a leader, it’s your job to ensure that the implications being drawn are correct.
Executive presentations are also where leaders model the attitudes and behavior they want to see trickle down through the whole org chart. Consciously building in those attitudes and behaviors to executive presentations is how that modeling happens. This is more than looking the part or having gravitas when you address the audience. This is about being inclusive of your diverse workforce and customer base, avoiding racist, sexist, or other exclusionary language, and staying away from “jokes” that won’t be funny to everyone listening. All of these elements are requirements of effective executive presentations. (“Unfunny jokes leadership” is a whole other flood of Google hits.) Seeing, acknowledging, and including your whole audience is how you build the trust that keeps your company thriving.
The right executive presentation skills can help you make a habit of building a cohesive picture of what your company represents and aspires to.
Turpin Communication has a solid track record of training and coaching executives at the highest levels to deliver clear, effective, and powerful presentations. We understand the expectations, the stakes, and the aspirations executives must rise to, and we make sure we meet your individual needs for success.