You have a big presentation coming up and there’s no doubt that you are the right person for the job – you know your material! The facts, the figures, and the history, you have it all down pat.
How else do you plan to prepare? Will you bring executive presence to the room? Will those listening be persuaded? Impressed? Bored?
If you’re concerned about your confidence level, read these tips below on preparing to project confidence and defend your position with power and authority. Successful presentation is about more than just knowing your facts and figures, and every moment of visibility is an opportunity for others to take the measure of your leadership skill and style.
1. Have a confident mindset
Your topic is important -- make it show! Your audience will take cues from you on how much weight and attention to give the subject you are speaking about, so slow down, breathe and remind yourself: “I believe in this, this is important. I am passionate, and the right person to speak on this subject. The audience should pay attention and be happy I am here to share this with them.” Don’t hesitate to speak your mind -- it’s what you’re here for.
2. Leverage your credibility
You may have spent a significant amount of time building the credibility that has landed you in the position to be presenting, and the urge may be to leverage the skills you’ve built over time in developing rapport with others. Unfortunately, when you’re presenting to senior leadership, you don’t have the time to waste.
Instead, remember that your credibility has landed you here. Leverage that! Own your knowledge of the topic and confidently state and defend your case. What you say matters, so act like it. Own your executive presence.
3. Slow down
If you rush through your presentation or diminish the gravitas of your delivery, then you’re giving the signal that your topic, and/or you, are not worthy of people's time and attention. Not so! Speak slowly and confidently and know deeply that you are giving them the information that they need, right now. Nothing else is more important at this moment.
It may be outside your comfort zone, but people are listening – communicate your ideas clearly and decisively.
4. Be concise
Focus on the one thing that is most important. If you feel the urge to rush through a point in your presentation, reconsider including that concept at all. Be clear and direct in the message you wish to convey. Stay on topic so the audience leaves remembering the one point you most want them to retain.
5. Don’t overprepare
Think of your presentation as a high-level executive summary. You are tasked with presenting the information in a clear, concise manner and then leave time for questions on the areas most relevant to your audience. When you over prepare, the presentation tends to become a recitation of facts and figures or wooden lists of key points. Trust that you know your material – cover the high points and then leave time for discussion and discourse.
6. Own your expertise
Don’t forget that you have been invited to present this information as a leading expert in this area. You know your stuff, and your opinions matter. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, even when challenged with questions or opposing views. Don’t defer to senior leadership in this area just because they are senior to you. Answer questions respectfully but confidently, even if your response challenges the hierarchy. Stay true to what you believe and you’ll come across as an executive presence leader.
Remember that this presentation is not just about the information you are presenting -- it’s about you, too, and the knowledge you are bringing on the topic at hand. Be confident in your place at the table and know that your analysis and opinion are just as important in this space. Own it! Bring your executive presence and share your expertise. They’re waiting to hear from you!
Joel Garfinkle is an executive leadership coach who recently worked with a new executive vice president who wanted to improve her executive presence. He began with these six tips for improving her presence during presentations. She was able to improve her approach to preparation and bring more gravitas to her delivery. Garfinkle has written seven books, including "Executive Presence: 16 Ways to Convey Confidence and Command Respect." More than 10,000 people subscribe to his Fulfillment@Work newsletter. If you sign up, you’ll receive the free e-book 41 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now!