Are you visible?
How can you show yourself at the head of the pack?
If you are invisible you are in danger,
so you need to create positive visibility
If you are visible you are being judged,
so you need to manage how you are perceived.
Here’s an example:
When you give a presentation to upper management, you probably spend a bunch of time on the content.
You make sure you have your story together — that there are no holes. You plan your strategy for what you are asking for, and you make sure it’s supported by the data. You stay up all night working on your slides…
But as much as you plan and craft your content, it is only a fraction of what your audience is paying attention to.
Probably half or more of their brainpower is going into a fairly harsh judgment of YOU. And that judgment is this:
Out? Ignore? Or Promote?
It really is that clear cut. It’s kind of like the Gong Show – remember, the act comes on and after a few seconds of performing they either get to proceed because they are doing OK, or they get “Gong’ed” off the stage.
Out: If you do not capture your audience in a strongly positive way, part of their brain will be tolerating your content but the other part will be thinking, We should ultimately move this person out to free up a headcount for someone better.
Ignore: If your presentation is fine, dull, clear, but un-compelling, part of their brain will be thinking, OK this makes sense, but you will remain lost in a sea of workers, unremarkable and easy to ignore, vs. a leader that stands out.
Promote: If your presentation is excellent, in both content and delivery, you will register as someone to watch, to pay attention to – someone to promote.
Even if you are not looking for a promotion, it’s important to strive for that last judgment. It’s more important that they want to promote you than for you to want a promotion. There is no category in the mind of upper management for “great, but standing still”.
The quality of the content counts, but other things count too — A LOT. Things such as your ability to:
- Communicate your ideas in a clear, compelling way, make it relevant
- Get to the point, not be boring, not go on and on about details
- Show personal gravitas, strong personal presence
- Show confidence vs. defensiveness
- Deal with hecklers, don’t get drawn off track
If you’re naturally good at these things, you are a step ahead of the game.
If you are not naturally good at this there are things you can and need to do.
You really need to put as much thought into HOW you will deliver your presentation as you do about what is IN your presentation.
Here are some ideas to scale up your delivery skills:
1) Plan and practice your opening line. Think about your audience and what they care most about. Make sure that you have an opening line that connects with what they specifically care about, and rehearse it.
2) Don’t bury the lead: what is most interesting, exciting or important? The brilliant archaeology of how you got there doesn’t matter — put it in the backup.
3) If you have slides, rehease and opening line and a closing line for each slide – actually write them and build a practice version of your presentation with slides that precede and follow each slide with your key point on them. Step through the presentation making only the key, take-away points.
4) Give them very clear choices, and make it really easy for them to do what you need them to do.
5) Be Memorable. Find a funny story or a personal relatable hook to your audience. This can be at the beginning, middle or end, as it suits your desired outcome and content.
- Standing Out (Podcast)
- Executive Presence
- Your Personal Brand (Podcast)
- Preserving Your Value (Podcast)
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