Group Presentation Tips & Best Practices
November 14, 2012 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I am getting ready to present a proposal with my eight people team to executives. Anyone has any good tips delivering a presentation with a large group? Transitions, timing etc.?
posted by djfreex to Work & Money (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Always do a test run of any media you plan to display before the actual presentation takes place! It seriously sucks to find out right in the middle of your presentation that the usb drive all your data is stored on is incompatible with whatever system you've got in the conference room, etc.
posted by elizardbits at 8:40 AM on November 14, 2012

I worked as a strategy consultant for years and briefed senior executives on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Some rules of thumb:

1. One person talks, the others stay quiet unless specifically asked to contribute (a question that requires a subject matter expert, etc.).

2. Your presentation should be 5 slides, tops. The rest is an appendix and reference materials. No transitions or animations or music or anything like that. It's distracting.

3. Never, ever, brief with a piece of technology you haven't used before.

4. Always bring hardcopies of everything. It saves your ass if the tech goes down, if you lose the room you're supposed to be in, or if the executives would rather have a discussion than a briefing.

5. Make explicit up front what you want from the group. Are you just getting them up to speed? Do they need to make a decision? Do you want their money? Make it clear right off the bat. At the end, make the ask. If you get what you want, shut up and don't blow it.

6. Practice. Practice a few more times. Then keep practicing some more. You should be able to deliver the core of your briefing (those 5 slides) without having those five slides.

7. Someone on your team is a designated note taker. They need to be obsessively detailed about it. They will hear things that you, as the briefer, will not.

8. Stop thinking about yourself and your team, and think about the executives. Does this briefing speak to them? For example, you might have the most badass tech, but if what they care about are financial implications, you need to brush over the tech and focus on the money.

I'm sure I'm missing stuff, but this is what I used to see people screw up all the time. It's very, very, very common to deliver crappy briefings.

Don't deliver crappy briefings.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 9:05 AM on November 14, 2012 [6 favorites]

I have never seen a presentation with that many speakers work well - it's very hard to maintain continuity. Any chance you could cut it to more like two speakers, and then get everyone involved for the Q&A?
posted by StephenF at 9:05 AM on November 14, 2012

I'm on an executive team and sit through briefings like this all of the time. I like all of NotMyselfRightNow's advice -- that is all good. A couple of additional tips I would offer:

Related to the "don't use any new technology" advice, get to the meeting room early to get set up with whatever AV you are going to be using (like 30 minutes in advance). Murphy's law dictates the day of the presentation is when the ethernet cable or the video cable goes missing.

Be prepared for the meeting to start late. Don't plan to use the whole time slot. If you are expecting to deliver a brief that requires a decision, plan to end early enough to allow for discussion. So for a thirty minute slot, think fifteen to twenty minutes of content, etc.

The temptation with a team is to give everyone a speaking part. Don't do this. Let whomever is your most articulate speaker lead the presentation. Introducing the team is fine, but don't spend more than a minute or two on that.

I'm assuming that one of the execs is your sponsor and will "tee up" the presentation with an introduction? They'll probably want to do a pre-meeting with you to talk about what outcomes you/they are looking for and to vet your presentation. If this haven't already happened, seek out that meeting.

You'll get questions probably starting in the middle of your first slide. Just roll with it. I agree with the idea of keep the presentation short, but would also recommend having some backup slides at the back of your presentation for any of the likely derails and cul-de-sacs the conversation might go down.

Good luck with your presentation.
posted by kovacs at 12:30 PM on November 14, 2012

One other piece of advice....

If an exec asks you a question answer that question. Don't tell them they should have asked a different question, don't answer the question you wanted them to ask, and for heaven's sake, don't ignore the question. Answer it as succinctly and honestly as you can.

I can't tell you the number of people I saw skewered at my previous company by not answering the SVP's question...
posted by elmay at 3:46 PM on November 14, 2012

Excellent advice above.

Some more suggestions from a long suffering mid-level manager, who frequently sees and makes exec presentations.

1. Pre-wire with as many execs before the meeting. I cannot count how many times this has helped me gain agreement. If any of the slides is about the performance of a group that reports to one of the execs in the meeting, it would be disastrous not to pre-wire.

2. Keep the information density on each slide high, but the quantum of information should be low. Don't cram multiple things into one slide in order to meet the 5-7 slide requirement, unless they are related and needed to provide a holistic picture.

3. Keep a neutral font, don't use stock Excel 2003 colors for charts (2007 and 2010 are much better), remove distracting information like data values in charts, use bold/underline sparingly, strict no-no on transitions and reduce images as much as possible

4. If possible, run the presentation on the same projector as what you would use on the day of presentation. Text too small or big takes away from the presentation.

5. Remember the presentation is as much about you as the information - you don't need to cram every last bit of the information. Have handouts ready with supplemental info if needed.

Most important, have an exec summary slide with key information, decision needed, highlights/lowlights, ROI, TCO - whatever is your presentation about. No one wants to find out what is needed at the end of slide 6. In other words, take the top down approach.
posted by theobserver at 7:28 PM on November 14, 2012

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