You know your job, you know your work, and you know the value you provide; but you need your clients and/or superiors to know it too.
So how do you communicate your know-how, value, and the importance of your work to said clients and superiors?
You’ve come to the right place.
Read our presentation tips to effectively communicate priorities to c-level executives at you or your client’s company.
Powerful Data Visualization
The first step to conveying your value or making a case is properly conveying information. Just because you know what you know does NOT mean that whoever you’re talking to does as well. You may think everyone understands that your company’s latest commercial is offensive to older generations. It may be so painfully obvious to you that you wouldn’t believe that the CEO doesn’t see it.
If you think that, you’d be wrong. Assumptions can be your worst enemy.
By skipping the basics of your argument, you’re building your report on a shaky foundation that can create confusion further down the line. That doesn’t mean you have to bore them to death (or patronize them if they DO happen to know) with dreadful slides full of dry details and stats. Avoid the Zzz’s in your presentation with powerful data visualization by utilizing insightful graphics and imagery.
Powerful data can come as a bar graph, a pie chart, a pictogram – but knowing when and how to apply each is what can make or break a pivotal point in your presentation. There isn’t always a “one size fits all,”
- When talking about tracking progress, a line graph could make sense – just be sure to have clear y and x axis labels called out so there is no room for confusion.
- For something like website audience growth over time, the data can be visualized graphically, using icons instead of points on a grid – something related to your product, service, or target audience could add to the visual.
- If you’re showing market share growth in a crowded space, don’t be afraid of animating your analysis to convey that growth.
Regardless of what kind of data visualization you decide works best for your information, it’s important to know your color wheel - blues and oranges worked great for Van Gogh but they’re blinding in a graph. The use of images can also add some emotion/personality to your presentation. Maybe it’s a stock photo of a man in a suit on a beach, or maybe it’s a picture of a puppy, but it’s the point you’re making that counts – and knowing how it will resonate with the personality of the audience.
At the end of the day, it isn’t just the data that makes a case – it’s that the data is understood as immediately as it is communicated and connects with the personality (or personalities) of the audience members. That is what ensures buy in. Again – if there is a shaky base at the root of your proposition, when you get to the top, everyone is going to know it.
Telling Your Story
Your data might be formatted to be easily consumed, but you need to create a narrative that contextualizes that data. To begin – start with what is important to those to whom you’re reporting. In this case – CEOs, CFOs, or some version thereof – it’s all about the bottom line. Money, new business, or growth is what makes the world go round. If that is your eye-opener - use it.
Whatever your goal, first explain how your work impacts the bottom line to ensure you’ve got a world-class, top-of-the-line, your-boss-is-listening intro. After you’ve got their attention (money), draw back and state the underlying concepts that frame your argument. In other words, the base elements of why you’re here, what you’re talking about, and the value you bring.
This is where you develop your narrative and craft the case you’re making with the data we just recently improved upon: your obvious demographics, your market research, your sales data, etc. Ensure that there is an obvious thread between your work -- right through your data, and directly to their bottom line. Think about it this way: if a 12-year-old could get that what you’re talking about means money in their pocket, so should your c-level audience.
Now you’ve got a story going all you need now is a conclusion. What does it all mean?
A strong conclusion, or takeaway, is the most important aspect of this entire endeavor. This is where your case provides that real world next step that means more money, more business, or more opportunity for your c-suite friends. This is essentially why you’re in the room or on the call – and the reason for the story you’ve created with your eye-catching data visualizations and well-crafted and gripping narrative.
For starters, your takeaways should be actionable and provide a measurable next step while paving the way for longer term goals. Don’t create pie in the sky possibilities but craft an obvious development from where you are to where you ought to be. This is, after all, what your presentation is for.
When putting your next steps together, make them as simple and straight-forward as possible. A number of simple elements help them become more digestible:
- Simple phrasing – don’t over complicate
- Active voice
- Bullet points – it sure helps here, right?
Overall, use what they knew before your presentation and what they know now that you’ve presented. These steps should also provide a progressive action plan that doesn’t stop once they’ve been completed; they should offer an avenue for a longer thread of actionable items that either create more business or a wider array of opportunities for you and your business.
You aren’t creating an end to the story you’ve crafted, but a first step in a sequence of many more steps that mean consistent growth, development, and opportunity – which is essential for you and your business.
Your presentation is an hour out of your CEO’s day. A slot on their calendar. So, what you do with that time is about as important as the information you’re providing. By crafting an engaging narrative, using powerful visual and graphic elements to develop your argument, and providing actionable takeaways that further the goals of you and your company - you make that hour of their time thought-provoking and profitable which is, in the end, exactly what those c-level folks want.