7 step checklist for wow-ing execs
4 min read

7 step checklist for wow-ing execs

Yo! Welcome to the next episode of The Content Strategy Reeder where marketers, sellers, and creators get better at content strategy and creation in 5 minutes or less.

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The Content Strategy Reeder is sponsored by Alyce.

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Last week I presented to Clari’s executive leadership team for the first time.

The CEO, CFO, and C-anything-you-can-think-of-O were all there.

Presenting to execs can be terrifying. Nerve-racking. Sweat-inducing.

This is a group that can literally fire you if you blow it.  (Sounds harsh, but let’s not pretend we don’t imagine worst case scenarios from time to time!).

I didn’t think I’d get axed, btw. But presenters do get chopped to pieces by execs if they miss the mark and provide confusion and doubt instead of clarity and confidence.  

No one wants that.

But it happens all the time whether you’re “selling” to an internal audience, like I was, or externally to a buyer, which I’ve also done countless times.

To prepare, I used a quick checklist I’ve created over the years to wow the c-suite.

Now I’m sharing it with you, and publicly, for the first time.

Quicknote: this is not going to explain what to present. That's way too nuanced for today and depends on you, your scenario, and a bunch of other factors. This is all about  how to present your ideas so they resonate.

OK, let's ride.

1. Explain their role

Resist diving straight into your content. Senior leaders get irritated when they don't understand their role. Are you looking for feedback, approval, both, something else? Start by telling them how they'll participate in your presentation or risk them checking email while you talk at them.

Clearly set expectations up front and you'll get a highly engaged audience and conversation.

2. Make it edu-taining

You’re not trying to be Kevin Hart, but your presentation needs to be informative and entertaining. Be clear and direct, but bring your personality and add some flair with stories and emotion. Slip in a joke or two if that’s your style.

They’ll remember how you made them feel more than the words on your polished slides.

3. Welcome questions & expect to be challenged

Most presenters go in thinking success equals a pat on the back and a “go get ‘em tiger!” But that’s not their job. They’re literally there to pressure test high-impact strategies to protect and grow the business. That comes with questions – be ready for them.

Be prepared explain the reasoning behind your decisions, and you'll avoid getting caught on your heels.

4. Teach them something new

This group is NOT a subject matter expert, YOU are. So share a surprising insight that sparked the need for change, or a framework that will deliver a specific benefit. If you show them something insightful and relevant, your perceived value will skyrocket.

Miss this step and risk being labeled "junior" or "green," and lose credibility.

5. Stay zoomed out

The most common rookie mistakes is getting — and staying — in the weeds. So bob between high- and mid-level. Explain your What and Why, then if they ask, lightly touch on How without getting too tactical.

If you find yourself listing your entire game plan, you've gone too far and risk losing their attention.

6. Protect your pace

How you deliver your content has a massive impact on how you're perceived. If you get nervous and shaky, your audience will become skeptical. Similarly, don't let questions bog you down and prevent you from covering your key points. If you find yourself getting too many questions, suggest you take questions offline to answer in depth.

Remember, controlling the pace conveys confidence.

7. Cut 30% of your content

Most presenters try to cover WAY too much content in too little time. Don’t overstuff your preso like a suitcase for a holiday vacation. Dump too much information on them and they'll remember none of it (except that you overwhelmed them).

Give them just enough and leave them wanting more, and you'll get invited back.

BONUS: Ask questions that incite discussion

Go ahead and remove "Any questions?" from your vocabulary. It's lazy and puts all the work on them to think of a question or unmute and awkwardly say... nope. Instead, pause periodically and ask what they love/hate about what you just said or showed on screen.

Just knowing these tips will give you confidence. Use them and you’ll get the “stamp of approval" every single time.

Oh, and if you’re curious, Clari’s exec team didn’t toss me outta the room. I got the two best reactions I could hope for:

-Genuine questions from the group
-CEO approval
-CEO follow up 1:1 to go deeper

I got the nod. Now it’s time to put in the work.

And that’s the fun part.

Holler at you next Saturday,

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