One Shot May Not Be Enough! Avoid Overloading Management Presentations?

The big presentation day. You are excited. You have been working since two weeks on your presentation. Today is the big day. Your management wants to see your results. You are proud of your results and want to ensure that Management really understands how hard you’ve worked to come up with your presentation material. You walk your management through all aspects of your topic and present your conclusion with lots of supporting arguments.

The surprise. The meeting doesn’t run well. Your management is impatient and eventually interrupts you frequently. Even though you worked so hard and you are very sure that you presented excellent results, it seems that your management doesn’t appreciate the results. Why did this happen?

THEIR perspective. Different from yours! Put yourself in the shoes of your management. They probably didn’t focus on your topic since you last met them. During the last two weeks, they most likely had to sit through many other presentations and listen to multiple other topics. They will have to catch up with you (the expert) within minutes. Since you worked on the topic in depth during the last two weeks you there is a huge information gap between you and your management. It’s your job to bridge this gap!

People need sufficient time to consume information and get their thoughts around it.

Therefore, before you prepare a presentation be very clear on much you can actually achieve in one short meeting. Focus on what your audience knows instead of what you know. It’s all about them.

Here is a simple way to avoid overloading a presentation: Imagine you meet some meeting participants ONE DAY AFTER the actual meeting. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What minimum insight, learnings, message should they recall from the meeting?
  2. What decision should they have taken?
  3. What action should they have taken based on your presentation?

These questions help to focus on the real objective of the meeting rather than getting lost in side issues. Any content that doesn’t support any of the three points above should not be part of your agenda Knowing what really matters, helps you align your presentation material to really get the critical points across.

What do I do with my other content? If you have a lot more information that is not directly linked to the meeting objectives, you have two choices:

  • Put this information in the appendix of the presentation. Like this, it will not dilute your main points. But in case a meeting participant asks for it, you can easily pull it out to support your message. But be careful: Providing ‘nice to have’ information may dilute your priority messages
  • Schedule further meetings to present it at a later point when your audience is ready to consume further information

You may feel bad that there is so much that you know that you will not be able to address in your meeting. But never forget – the purpose of a meeting is not to show how much you know. The only thing that counts is that your audience is informed about what they need to know to keep things moving in the right direction. Senior Management maybe even very happy with you if you can achieve this goal without overwhelming them with lots of detail. A lean and simple approach to meetings is far better than the “say it all, and all in one shot” method. Never forget that if people can’t follow you, there is a high chance to fail.