How to create a presentation for C-level audience

How to create a presentation for C-level audience

A presentation addressed to a senior leadership audience is a high-stakes situation that can lead to important decision making, wining new clients, or create exciting professional development opportunities. Therefore, such an important presentation should be compelling, to-the-point and supported by stunning visuals.

Executives who are preparing presentations for senior audiences should devote time and effort to ensure a successful outcome.

Below are three tips that you should follow when preparing presentations for a C-level audience:

1 / Develop a clear and coherent structure

The human brain can receive and process a certain amount of information at a given point in time. When a piece of information is presented to an audience, if not done correctly, people will not be able to understand it and recall it in their minds.

Thus, a presentation with a clear structure that can be easily understood increases significantly the possibilities of success. A presentation should contain a central idea and the supporting material should be organized around it, as shown in the figure below.

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A CEO should be able to understand that the executives have worked hard on their proposal and they can support it. The main part of the presentation needs to be concise but an appendix with more details related to research and analysis would be very useful in case of questions.

2 / Be meticulous in design and appearance

You do not need to be a graphic designer to create impressive slides. However, it is necessary to apply some simple design principles such as the following:

  • Design your slides according to a grid system
  • Create a color coding based on yours organization branding system
  • Use a maximum of 2-3 font types throughout the presentation
  • Make sure your presentation is consistent from the beginning to end
  • Create a presentation system that will help you save time and effort

What is more, avoid creating slides with endless bullet-points. Transform words into visuals, as in the picture below which has been redesigned for a large audience presentation.

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Use the technique of contrast and create slides that can bring your narrative into life. Do not stick to the first image you will find in stock websites but search for more innovative ways to express your ideas.

3 / Make good use of the time available

Time management plays an important role when presenting to senior leaders. Their capacity to attend a meeting is limited and they do not want to risk their position and reputation to adopt a suggestion that is not convincing and looks sloppy. On the contrary, they want to feel safe and confident that your suggestions will be successful.

Therefore, for an 1-hour meeting you should be prepared for a lot of questions followed by a discussion. In that case, do not present more than 20 slides. The chances of running a successful meeting will be increased if you predict the most possible questions and get prepared for the relevant answers.

Prepare an amazing presentation and your CEO will greatly appreciate it. Hard work always pays off.

Let's work together

Since 2006, we are working on C-level presentations. Presentations are our passion and we have successfully expressed visually the most complex messages. You may also join our presentation workshops that will help you transform the way you communicate.

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This article contains citations from: 1. Atkinson, C. (2008). Beyond bullet points. Washington: Microsoft Press; 2. Simon, C. (2016). Impossible to Ignore: Creating memorable content to influence decisions. New York: McGraw-Hill Education; 3. Duarte, N. (2012). HBR guide to persuasive presentations. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Review Press