Executive Speaking Weblog

Communication – the future of business

Presenting in the Boardroom

Posted by Presentation Skills on February 25, 2008

The most common form of public speaking and presenting occurs across the table, or in a clients Boardroom.

Presenting in the Boardroom requires a special understanding of certian unwritten rules and territorial factors.

Seating.  Before taking a seat, wait for your host to direct you. Never assume a position around the table.  When preparing, ask permission as to where you should set up, and if it is OK to set up now.  If you do need to sit down, ask if it is OK to sit in a particular seat. 

Respect the status in the room.  In some organisations there will be a very clearly defined hierarchy.  This may even include calling someone by their title such as “Mr”.  Make yourself aware of what is happening along these lines and follow suit.  In some groups, people will have clearly defined roles.  

Know your audience.  Do as much homework as possible on your audience.  Know what their hot-buttons are.  Know what they like and dislike, and tailor your presentation accordingly. 

Help them save face.  Ensure that you do not cause your host to lose face.  If you suspect that your host does not fully understand what you are saying, try re-phrasing your point another way.  If you are not sure if they understand, try something like, “Have I made that clear enough?”, as opposed to, “Do you understand what I am saying?”  This lets them feel that the reason they don’t understand is not due to them.  This is very important when dealing with Eastern Cultures.   

Be adaptable.  Be ready to bounce off what the people in the room do or say.  Being able to incorporate this into your presentation will give the impression that this is a completely unique presentation. 

Study the room dynamics.  In any group of people there will be some that are closer friends than others.  Some may even dislike each other.  If this is evident, avoid being drawn into it. 

Don’t skip slides.  If using PowerPoint, never skip a slid in front of a customer.  If you do, you will give the impression that you are hiding something from them.  If you need to tailor a presentation for a prospect, hide any unnecessary slides before you get there. 

You are there to make a sale.  Regardless of what you are presenting, you will be making a sale.  You may not be asking for an order number there and then, but if you want to have a future relationship with this audience, they will have to buy your credibility.  As in all sales situations, keep the following in mind:

  • K.I.S.S.  Keep it short and simple.  Attention spans are only getting shorter.  By getting to your point as soon as possible you will avoid wasting everyone’s time.
  • Understand what they want, and know what they need. Many people in a buying situation know what they want, but are unaware of what they really need.  Find out what their needs are, and fill them and you will have a better chance of success.
  • Use feature and benefits.  People do not buy the features of any product.  They buy the benefits those features give.  For example, people don’t buy a car with a V8 engine (feature) just because it has a big engine.  They buy a car with a V8 engine because of the power it has (benefit).  Understand the features of your product, and what benefits it brings to your client.
  • Use Questions.  A great way to understand more about your audience is to ask questions.  By asking questions, your audience will give an insight to what they really want.
  • Don’t over answer.  If you are asked a question, avoid the temptation to give a long answer that leaves no stone un-turned.  Answer as much as is needed to satisfy the person who asked the question.  If they ask more, great.  If they are asking questions, they are showing interest.
  • Leave questions to be asked.  By carefully omitting some information from your presentation you can prompt a question about it.  Some audience like to ask questions.  It lets them show that they understand what you are presenting.
  • Don’t finish with a Q&A.  Avoid finishing on with a Q&A session.  After you have dealt with all the questions, give a brief summary.  This allows you to have the last word and control what happens next.

 ‘Til next time,

Cheers

Darren Fleming

Australia’s Public Speaking Coach

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One Response to “Presenting in the Boardroom”

  1. […] Fleming offers a series of tips for presenting to a client in the boardroom. e.g. If using PowerPoint, never skip a slide in front of a customer. If you do, you will give the […]

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