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Powerful Presentations: Teaching Your Team To Talk Strategy post image

A “stand and deliver” presentation on your results is always nerve-wracking.But– watching your team do one is down right scary.

Remember when you…

  • couldn’t sleep the night before
  • were so stressed, you missed the main idea
  • failed to anticipate the political dynamics
  • used the wrong words, which took the entire conversation downhill
  • didn’t have supporting documentation
  • couldn’t answer obvious questions
  • left them with the wrong impression?

What didn’t kill you can make them stronger.

This month I am spending time with each of my Director teams conducting “teaching” operations reviews. Modelled after performance meetings all executives at our company do each quarter, we brought the drill-down to the frontline and middle management level. In fact, in the review I just completed, we had 5 levels of leadership in the room, all working together to become better at selling their strategic stories. Leaders teaching other leaders to build powerful presentations. Leaders growing leaders.

The Powerful Presentations Process

We asked each team to develop a formal Powerpoint deck highlighting their results, opportunities and action plans. The teams co-presented strategic stories to a cross-functional panel of leaders. It was an operations review in every sense of the word. They took me deep into their work. I asked provocative questions, with a twist lots of time-outs and immediate feedback and coaching. My Directors asked too, with a different perspective. Slide by slide, we talked about what could make their presentations more powerful.

The Powerful Presentations Ground Rules

  • All feedback is given in the spirit of love and development
  • This is about teaching you to operate at the next level or more. The questions will be tough, and you may get stuck. That’s okay.
  • We are going to interrupt, give feedback, ask questions, dispute statistics, drill down, question slide format, share stories of our mishaps, and raise political dynamics along the way
  • I also promise to share my “inside voice” (this is what I immediately think when you say that or when you show me that slide)

Crafting Powerful Presentations

We encouraged the teams to build their talk track strategically to answer these 3 questions

  • What key message do you want me to remember?
  • What do you need me to do?
  • Why should I believe in you?

What They Learned about Powerful Presentations: (as reported in the debrief)

About Preparation

  • Anticipate the questions based on execs in attendance (i.e. Finance, HR, Field)
  • Understand every number and point on the slides
  • Have back-up data
  • Understand your back-up data (sounds obvious but can be trickier than you think)
  • Ensure your boss is aligned with everything you are going to share (never blind side your boss)

About the Slides

  • Less is more, keep the slides clean and simple
  • Avoid cutesy graphics and distracting movement
  • Include trending
  • Forecast improvement. Based on this plan, I commit to having this metric be at (X) by (Date)

About the Talk Track

  • Begin with a problem statement, then share actions
  • Call out the opportunity first, if something is a problem point it out (before your audience does)
  • Ask for what you need
  • Be brief and be gone (don’t keep asking for more questions, quit while you’re ahead)
  • Acknowledge and thank your peers (in the room and outside of it)
  • Reference previous presentations (“as Jane just share”)
  • If you don’t know an answer. DON’T make one up
  • It’s not about telling me how hard you work

What I Learned

Lots about…

  • my people
  • the real deal
  • what I must do next
  • the team appreciates this kind of development
  • Ideas from other leaders about building powerful presentations

if you are an executive, take the time to teach your team to build powerful presentations. They will be nervous, it will be a stretch, they will work extra hours and leave frustrated and invigorated.

They will thank you.

Filed Under:   Career & Learning, Results & Execution
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt is an experienced executive, speaker, and writer with a diverse background in sales, marketing, customer service, merger integration, training and organizational leadership. Her company, Let’s Grow Leaders, helps companies gain a competitive edge by building extraordinary front-line teams. She was recently named to the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trusted Business Behavior by Trust Across America. Karin knows the stillness of a yogi, the reflective road of the marathon runner, and the joy of being a mom raising emerging leaders.
 

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What People Are Saying

Mauro Turrisi   |   18 March 2013   |   Reply

You hit the nail on the head. The fact that you and your directors have invested time at the analyst level is key to developing future leaders. Teaching these skills early in their careers so they don’t need to make the same mistakes.

letsgrowleaders   |   18 March 2013   |   Reply

Mauro, thanks so much for joining the conversation. Great to see you here. It was fun to have people in so many different roles working through this together.

Steve Borek   |   18 March 2013   |   Reply

They say using pictures is the way to go vs. text.

Most important, what do you want the audience to feel when the presentation is over.

letsgrowleaders   |   18 March 2013   |   Reply

Steve, agreed… if they are the right visuals. We found some cutey visuals made things distracting.

Tim   |   18 March 2013   |   Reply

The best presentations tell a story, and the audience is able to walk away with a message. Often in an operations review, the audience already knows the numbers, and they want to hear the story of how the numbers got there and where they are going. I agree, less is more, and it is more about what the presenter says than what is on the slide. However, not knowing how to answer a question on what is on the slide can derail the story. Knowledge of your business is essential. Then focus on the story line, and the message you want to deliver. Lastely, know when to position your requests from the audience.

letsgrowleaders   |   18 March 2013   |   Reply

Tim. Bingo. It’s all about the story!

Jamie   |   18 March 2013   |   Reply

This is wonderful! My favorite part is sharing your inside voice! Sharing your inside voice is a huge win. This allows the audience to trust you and not worry about your inner thoughts.

letsgrowleaders   |   18 March 2013   |   Reply

Jamie, great to have you hear. Ahh, yes, the transparency of the inside voice. I believe in that as a teaching tool. I also want to hear the “inside voices” of others. That creates dialogue richer conversation.

Anonymous   |   18 March 2013   |   Reply

This is a wonderful, developmental tool that all executives should use. This “Workshop” type of Operations review is great for developing not only leaders in the workplace, also leaders in the home. I bet individuals that go through this type of training have a greater home life communication and are better equipped to readout about issues at hand. I see, as being a part of this type of development, a greater leader in myself and that helps me to build on a 15 year foundation with a company that I have never had to do a readout before. There is nothing like a loving, constructive, and investmental operations review, thank you for the blog.

letsgrowleaders   |   18 March 2013   |   Reply

Great to have your comment. Hmmm… hadn’t thought about the home life application. Interesting…thanks for adding that.