Executive presentations are a very valuable resource in any company. Knowing how to design, deliver and explain them will help you better understand the magnitude of the projects you can execute for the benefit of your business.
From your position as CEO, senior executives and the board of directors are one of the toughest crowds you will face as a presenter. These professionals have jam-packed schedules and must make important decisions in a short amount of time. They will likely be incredibly impatient to hear from you and will want to know the purpose of your presentation as soon as possible, as well as the benefit it will bring to the company.
For this reason, you must be an excellent communicator and master your executive presentations to get the visibility and recognition you need to propel your career to the top. If you want your audience to be interested in what you are telling, we will recommend some tips to improve your executive presentations and shine in front of your company’s top executives.
In this post, we will teach you about what an executive presentation is, the elements that executive presentations should have, tips to make them and a list of programs with which you will be able to create these incredible presentations.
what is an executive presentation?
An executive presentation is a proposal or update on a specific project of the professional, whether it is in process or in the planning stage. For an executive presentation to be effective, the communication must be concise and clear so that senior executives can make a decision in a short amount of time.
In addition, the content conveyed in your executive presentation must be visually appealing, with graphic elements that validate and support the information.
In order to make an executive presentation, you must be sure to develop enough knowledge to recognize the patterns that your company’s executives will be interested in seeing. Likewise, you must prepare a synthesized story, which can respond to the concerns of your superiors.
what elements does an executive presentation need?
Like all research and analysis work, there is a certain format that must be taken into account to make an optimal executive presentation that meets certain criteria and that manages to send the message you want to convey.
Let’s learn more about the elements of executive presentations:
1. Cover page
The starting point of any document you want to make, an executive presentation should have a cover page that is visually appealing and invites the reader to take a look.
As you will do with the rest of the paper, try to keep the cover simple. You could even make an executive summary, taking into consideration elements such as the following:
Title (avoid making it a monotonous and boring one. Try to make it catch the eye from the first glance).
Authors of the research.
These are some of the information you can include in the cover page of your executive presentation. Remember that it is only a cover page and that you should reserve the really relevant information for the content of the job itself.
Some people put the introduction of an executive presentation as part of the content of the same, but the reality is that it fulfills a specific function, which should be considered separately from what will be the body of the note.
what will you do in the introduction of your executive presentation? You should put your audience in context about the topic you are going to work on. It serves as a prelude to situate the viewer and help them understand the importance of the research and the elements that will be present in it.
If you go to the cinema to see a movie, you usually read the synopsis beforehand (unless you want to be surprised). That is the introduction to your executive presentation: the synopsis of your research.
We are now getting into what will be the body of your executive presentation. The content is, basically, the most important part of your work, so you must check very well that it complies with all the established guidelines.
Inside your content should be the most important thing: the key ideas and how the structure of the executive presentation will be. You must make sure that it generates a connection with the audience because, if not, you will simply lose your audience.
Let’s take a look at some of the parts you should consider for the content of your executive presentation:
Hook: if you want to grab the attention of executives, from the beginning, start at the end. Show them the return on investment and the impact the final result will have and you will see how you capture their attention from minute zero.
Current situation: outline where the business is today. Show the challenge for the company, the existence of the project and the impact of the project on the venture.
New opportunities: if you show the managers all the opportunities that will open up with this project, you will generate an impact. Show the potential advantages, without leaving aside the possible risk that could exist and the contingency plans for any possible eventuality.
Evidence: it is not enough to gather any kind of data to give some validity to your executive presentation. You must select your information very carefully and remember to explain where those statistics come from and what they mean for the project.
Projected data: it is similar to the new opportunities, only that here it is about showing a specific set of data, which shows the objective of the presentation. Highlight the most important numbers and highlight the good news for managers.
Alternatives: here you will talk about the options that were also considered and highlight why they did not end up being viable. You could even show your supervisors what might happen if the project is not implemented and nothing is done about it.
This is basically the structure of your text. Remember that you must cover these points in a concise and easy to grasp way, as doing a thesis on each of the parts is not such a viable option.
4. Conclusions and recommendations
Just as there is an introduction and a development, there must also be a closing in your executive presentation. In this part of the project, you should make what is a synthesis of your presentation and clarify any concerns or doubts that may arise among managers.
how is a conclusion of an executive presentation structured? As follows:
Next steps: once the entire presentation is done, it only remains to highlight when and how the plan of your executive presentation will be executed. Here you should also include everything you might need from your audience (managers).
End: just as you started, you should also close. You must leave the best possible impression and inspire the executives so that they feel obliged to act quickly, as established in your project.
These are the elements that will make up your executive presentation. As you may have noticed, it is not very complex, you just have to gather the most relevant information and be attentive to explain even the smallest detail in your project.
what should you take into account to make an executive presentation?
Although executives are interested in what you have to say, their attention span is short and they usually want to see concrete actions and possible results.
Mostly, executives focus on costs, returns and compensation. The comments you are most likely to hear will be questions such as the following:
how much will this cost us?
how long will it take to see results?
Also, keep in mind that all the proposal and recommendations you provide must be based on data, so you must have a good argument to sell your idea to the people who are listening to you.
Now, if you have data that is confusing or questionable, your proposal will lose credibility. This is the worst thing you can do to sell a business idea.
Tips for making executive presentations
We know that your executive presentation will depend on your job, the type of company you are in and countless other factors to take into account. However, there are a number of guidelines that will help your presentation go as smoothly as possible.
Here are 10 tips to improve your executive presentations:
1. Prepare a clear message
When you start a presentation, your goal is to solve a problem. This message must be clear from the start:
what is the problem you are trying to solve?
how are you going to do it?
when will you do it?
All these questions should be answered concisely. By arguing the reason for your presentation, you will set the tone for what you will say in the course of your presentation.
2. Be concise
It is important that, from the beginning, you summarize what you are going to present. An introduction should not exceed 3 minutes, this way, you will be able to deal with all the information that really matters to your audience.
Keep in mind that, at the beginning of your presentation, you should mention high-level findings and a call to action. At the end, it is important that you summarize with conclusions and recommendations.
Harvard Business Review recommends that you inform the audience that you will spend the first few minutes presenting your summary and the rest of the time discussing the topic.
Even the most impatient executives will be able to wait for you to finish your presentation because they will know that it will be time for questions.
4.Create summary slides
At the beginning of the presentation, give a brief overview of the key points before delving into the topic. This will help to ensure that, after presenting the summary, questions may arise and it will be quicker to show the slides that correspond to each point.
Slides are very important in your executive presentation, as you will see a little later on.
5.Prepare meaningful visual elements
The worst mistake you can make is to fill your presentation only with text. Make sure that images and audiovisual elements are the protagonists of your presentation.
Seeing a lot of text will not help your audience understand what you are communicating. Therefore, we suggest that you insert elements such as the following:
6. Engage your audience
A good option, if possible, is to use a whiteboard and start explaining with your own drawings or words.
This will allow the audience to participate and exchange ideas spontaneously.
7.Prepare your question section
After listening to you, executives will want to ask you a lot of questions, so be prepared, so have a list of tentative questions they might ask you and prepare answers.
Remember: if you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t make it up. Ask for time to review the information so you can develop a clear answer.
8.Accomplish your mission
In case the presentation has been scheduled for you to respond to a specific request from the directory, you must respond immediately. For example, if you were asked to summarize the metrics for the last six months, the first thing you should do is just that.
Then, you can delve into details that you think are relevant, since you must respond to the request directly and quickly. To help you with this, learning how to make a pitch can come in handy as preparation.
Before presenting, review your entire presentation to find any mistakes, and meet with an executive in your area who can listen to your presentation and give you feedback.
Ask them if your message comes across clearly and quickly, if your summary slides have key information, or if there is anything else you can add.
After giving your presentation, it is important that you start the action plan (in case they have approved your idea) or proceed to adjust your proposal. Ask for feedback from your colleagues and also from your audience.
Don’t forget to write down the key recommendations they mention to improve the project you are presenting.
how to make the design of your executive presentation?
Throughout the post, we have highlighted the need to focus on the design of a creative presentation. Let’s recognize that, the better what you are going to “present” looks, the better they will assimilate it, so you should focus on the visual part of your project.
For this, we give you a series of recommendations so that your executive presentations look the best possible and are so visually attractive that they dazzle your audience. Let’s see what steps you should follow:
1. Check the criteria to follow in the slides
The idea of an executive presentation is to make it appealing to the viewer. To accomplish this step, we offer you the following recommendations:
Present only one message per slide: this way, you will retain all the attention of the executives on a single point and avoid distractions.
Make the titles small: so that they do not distract the audience from the main idea of the text.
Use contrast to your advantage to highlight points: a tip is to seek to highlight the main ideas of the text, using a dark background instead of a white one, for example, with which you highlight the text related to the current topic.
2. Use multimedia elements
In order to give shape to the ideas that you will develop during your executive presentation, you can use multimedia elements to capture the viewer’s attention.
what do we mean by multimedia elements? You should count, in your executive presentations, with support such as the following:
The idea is not to make your executive presentation a party, that’s for sure. But you can use some of these elements to enhance some parts of your proposal.
3. Don’t overload your project with elements
Along the same lines as the previous point, everything in excess is negative, even multimedia elements. As far as possible, prevent your slide from being saturated with elements, so that the viewer is not easily distracted by all the components he/she will find on the screen.
In this sense, one of the main maxims when making a creative presentation is that there should not be more than 6 objects per slide, for example, there should be an image and 5 bullet points.
Otherwise, you run the risk of your message getting lost among so many unnecessary decorative components. Stick to the plan.
4. Show data with graphs
We mentioned graphs as one of the multimedia components to consider for your executive presentation, didn’t we? Well, in this case, a chart is more important than you might think.
The idea of making a creative presentation is to be able to see all aspects of a project in the most synthesized and clear way possible. And a graphic will always be better than having a summary report.
To include a chart in your executive presentations, make sure they have only the most compelling data to support the points you will make during your presentation.
5. Keep in mind the fonts of the letters
Every detail is important in your executive presentations. And an element such as the font of your text should not be neglected either.
When preparing your executive presentation, try not to use more than 2 or 3 fonts (that are related to each other and are visually pleasing). The idea is that you can maintain consistency with a font for headings, another one for subheadings and a last one for the whole body.
Of course, take your precautions and do not make a font festival in your text: if you feel that you cannot get 2 fonts that match each other, appeal to the classic style and use only one. Better to be safe than sorry.
Programs for making executive presentations
One of the most important aspects when making executive presentations is the staging. You can bet on using the classic PowerPoint (a life insurance that never fails) or evaluate other alternatives that, perhaps, have variants that complement your presentations.
do you want to have at hand some programs that will be useful when making your executive presentations? Then pay attention to the list below:
We could not fail to mention it, and much less if it was not in the first place. There is no doubt that it is for many the software par excellence, when creating executive presentations (and projects with slides in general).
what has made PowerPoint the favorite of many? Some of the features that we can highlight of the popular Microsoft software are the following:
It has a great ease of use.
It was one of the first software that emerged with the purpose of offering visually stunning presentations.
You can convey your message in a simple and powerful way.
It has a large number of templates and particular styles, perfectly modifiable to give a touch of quality to your executive presentations.
It is compatible with other Microsoft programs, as well as multiple extensions.
Now, what can we say about the price? Although the desktop version requires a payment of 144 USD per year, you have a simplified version available for free from the application store.
It is one of the softwares that, without a doubt, you should take into consideration. Because it is versatile, intuitive and easy to use, this is a program you can’t miss when making your executive presentations.
2. Google Slides
Google’s programs are at the forefront of technology trends associated with collaborative work. And Google Slides is a true reflection of how useful it can be to use this software for the creation of your executive presentations.
This software not only facilitates the possibility of creating executive presentations, it also gives the user the opportunity to share these slides so that they can edit or present them from anywhere they are (as long as they have a PC or laptop, with an internet connection, of course)
It is very similar to PowerPoint in terms of working experience. It has a simple and intuitive interface (even more so if you have worked with Microsoft’s program) and both formats are compatible.
So, what benefits can you get from making your executive presentations with Google Slides? The good thing about using this software from Google’s office suite is that you do not have to purchase any kind of license or buy or install programs: it is a free platform, which you can access from a computer with internet, and you will not lose your information at any time, as it will all be uploaded to the cloud.
Source: Google Slides
Canva is a software that has gained weight over time and has become one of the most profitable and outstanding programs in the digital world.
Although Canva is the solution par excellence for creating images, videos and ads on social networks, it also offers good material for creating executive presentations, thanks to its customized templates, its filters and the function with which it is able to create brand filters.
Speaking specifically about the executive presentations offered by this software, Canva gives you the opportunity to create a customized template of your presentation, including both the logo of your company and the colors that represent it.
In addition to this, you have advantages at your disposal such as the following:
You can share the presentations with any of your team members, so they can use your executive presentation as a template for their presentations.
You can edit your presentations from any device with internet connection: PC, laptop, tablet or cell phone.
Despite being one of the most popular platforms for this type of executive projects, one of the drawbacks of Canva is that its free alternatives are really limited, so if you are interested in a much more elaborate executive presentation, you should opt for the paid version. Our advice is to opt for the free options before deciding to use a paid one.
Of course, as the Canva website mentions, the best thing about this option for making executive presentations is that it has “an incredible multimedia library, amazing graphics and presentation mode”.
Perhaps the least known name on the list, but it is a very valuable resource for executive presentations. Basically, this application allows the possibility of creating slides from the PC, with an interface very similar to PowerPoint, but with new tools.
The essential thing you should know about Visme is that it managed to simplify the best of the user experience of Microsoft’s program and made it even more intuitive. Besides, it has numerous customization options, with which you will be able to start creating incredible designs and dazzle in your executive presentations.
what elements should you handle about Visme? Not only is it free, but you can also access outstanding multimedia elements, such as videos, tables, audios, etc.
No more using boring elements and data in your executive presentations. With the interactive system of this app you can add the design you want, plus you have the option to share and download your slides with just one click.
You even have the option to publish your executive presentation online or use it offline or privately (exclusively for the use of your work team and the company).
Work hard to make a great impression. To be an effective CEO, you need strong communication skills to persuade your audience. If you don’t know how to communicate an idea, it will be difficult for others to see your potential.