Ruth Saunders a business speaker, trainer and coach bringing 30 years' of experience
in marketing and brand strategy, recently joined us at the Academy speaking and hosting workshop sessions, where she shared invaluable insights on how to handle challenging senior level discussions and how to identify opportunities when presenting.
We've summarised some of her key points below to make sure you get the most out of potentially overwhelming but important senior level meetings:
1. Speak to the C-Suite in a language they understand
Find out what the C-Suite want, where they want to see results and make sure you can talk about those insights clearly. Ruth had her own version of the 4 Cs when preparing for a senior meeting:
- Credible; be prepared and know what you're going to discus
- Commercial; how does your proposition benefit the business
- Concise; respect their time and get to the point fast
- Clear cut; what are you asking permission for
Whether you're presenting long term strategic plans or short term tactical campaigns, you must be able to communicate it in a way your bosses will understand it. Remember they're human - don't just sell to them, ask their opinion and speak in plain English, you'll get much higher buy in and engagement if they fully understand and are involved in the process.
2. What's your story through your presentation - would your mum understand it?
If you know exactly what you want from the meeting and know what you have to get permission for, how you get there can be more relaxed. By starting with a concise, clear cut recommendation you are immediately managing expectations and can use the rest of the time to credibly and commercially support those recommendations.
Improve clarity throughout your presentations by telling a clear story on each slide; the recommendation, the implications and how that links to what you're asking permission for. Visual representation is hugely impactful, so be creative to make data more accessible and robust. Put a 'so what' in your headline and then explain your point with data that supports it. If you have a small chart, pull out the main data and have the 'so what' at the bottom, highlighting the important information upfront.
If you're presenting to a wider team, find out who your allies, opposers or neutral parties are. Having one-to-one meetings ahead of the presentation can help you identify collaborators who can ask helpful questions, and equally address more difficult questions directly with any opposers. This extra preparation will inform your recommendations and prevent you from getting caught off guard during the presentation.
And finally, never forget the next steps - who's taking action and what time frames are there to put your recommendations into action.
3. Client centric communication
Find innovative ways to bring in the client voice, either physically or through information that you then surface and drive engagement around. Marketers should see themselves as the voice of the customer, and the most effective way to vocalise their needs is to use their words. It's more emotional than paraphrasing and means the value stays clear and concise, rather than getting lost in translation or paraphrasing. Obsess about client - then you will see growth.