Thursday, March 18, 2010

What to Do When the Executive Interrupts Your Slide Presentation

by Gilda Bonanno LLC http://www.gildabonanno.com/

Recently, participants in one of my training programs complained that they spent weeks to prepare long, in-depth PowerPoint presentations to sell their ideas to a senior executive. But he stopped them on the first slide and asked them so many questions that they didn't have time to go through the rest of the slides. While I initially shared their indignation, here are some suggestions about how to view the situation in a positive light:

• Remember, the point of the presentation is to communicate your information to your audience; in this case, your audience is the executive (and his team) and your goal is for him to understand your project and make a decision about it. Whether he does that by looking at all your slides or listening to the answers you give to his questions, you have achieved your goal.

• Slides are just the visual aids – you are the presentation. It is better that the executive asks you the questions rather than asking you to be quiet so he can read each of your slides. Your ability to answer the question demonstrates that you have command of the information. The slides are just there to provide you backup, rather than the other way around.

• The exercise of constructing the slides is useful in itself. Even if you don't get to show all of them, just the fact that you spent the time to prepare them means you know the information well.

• Be selective in what you include in your presentation and on the slides. Just because you know all the details doesn't mean you have to say them or put them in the slides. Focus on the big picture in your presentation and keep the details available to answer the questions.

• Creating effective and focused slides takes time – so build that time into your schedule.

• You will be interrupted with questions – expect them and be prepared for them. You can try to respond with, "I have a slide later that answers your question," but if the executive asks for the information, it's not usually a good idea to make him wait for it. Remember, you are there to communicate to your audience in whatever way the audience wants.

Gilda Bonanno's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com

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