People are fascinating, aren’t they?
It’s widely acknowledged that executives need to be great communicators and yet many seem to struggle – or avoid doing – presentations.
There was a survey a while back that revealed insights the smart-thinking assistant would be wise to pick up on:
Almost nine out of 10 executives said communicating with clarity had a direct effect on their income and career.
Yet only a quarter spent more than two hours practising and rehearsing for a ‘high stakes’ presentation. One in four executives spent 30 minutes or less.
Is it any wonder so many key C-suite and board meetings are filled with tension and pressure?
The Presentation Challenge
The survey, by consultants Distinction Communication, also revealed what executives found most challenging about creating a presentation.
More than a third cited putting together a good message. One in ten quoted setting up quality slides. About one in eight were most stretched by delivering with confidence.
Interestingly, 41 per cent of executives said they found all three of the above challenging.
This survey does go back a few years so if they repeated it now the numbers might be different.
But I suspect much of it remains true today.
Closing the Gap
The survey findings tell us that there is a gap in presentation skills, confidence and performance.
This is where the EA and PA can be even more of a superhero for their boss. This is where the VA can be even more of a superhero to their clients.
Presentations might be exec to exec, from the top down or at a management level. Treating each one as unique and for a specific audience is a good starting point.
An obvious way you may, as an Assistant, be asked to help is to take the talk notes and create a slide presentation to match.
Ditch the Dull
Despite the jokes about ‘Death by PowerPoint’, this Microsoft application remains a powerful communication tool.
PowerPoint itself is not boring. It’s how people are using it that can be as dull as dishwater.
A bad presenter blames their tools. A poor communicator, ditto.
Once you know how PowerPoint works and what it can do, you will be able to ditch the dull and create presentations that deliver the message like a Sydney Harbour New Year’s firework display. Full of punch, colour and clarity.
If you’re a little unsure about this tool, it is time to do something about it. Take a look at my online Perfect PowerPoint Creation course. It gives you everything you need to know.
Once you’ve mastered the essentials, you will save yourself hours and hours of frustration – and be able to wow your boss or client.
Did you know you can create slides from a presentation outline in Word, for example? It’s covered in my course.
As the expert in the application, you will be able to educate and guide people. You will be able to show them the best way to share their notes with you (to help them create clear communication and to help make your life easier).
Be the Wise Guide
When you are in service of others and demonstrate reliability and trust, it paves the way for more open communication.
In a constructive way, you can offer suggestions and advice to improve a presentation.
If you see something that is incorrect or may potentially make the presenter look bad, you are going to point it out, in a respectful way. Like you would if your best friend had a bit of the green stuff stuck in their teeth, a lipstick smudge or was wearing odd socks.
You do it in service, to be helpful.
If a client or the boss is new to the board – or has been asked to present to the C-suite – they may not realise the presentation takes on a different dimension and character.
It’s no longer just the case of delivering an update or a briefing. Now they are a strategist, an ideas seller and a pitcher. They become the main storyteller and on-the-spot problem solver.
You can assist them with simple advice and encouragement.
Communicating with the C-Suite
If sharing a roadmap with a timeline, the presenter may want to put themselves in the shoes of the C-suite.
What is their focus? What questions are they likely to ask? What factors affect delivery and how can they be overcome? Where are the quick wins?
The board may get pitched with lots of ideas. One of the questions they might ask is “What is the difference if we don’t take your idea – and just do nothing?”
How will the presentation and preparation counter that? How will questions about what the competition might do (in response to an idea) be answered? How will an idea serve the customer?
Leaders may also ask the presenter for their suggestions or preferences. If the presentation can show perspectives or alternatives – and reasons why they are not as promising – that helps the clarity of the conversation.
A presentation might also have to deal with the assumptions used in any reasoning and what to say if the decision-makers say “Great. What do you need from us?”
The assistant can do far more than just stick a few slides together. And, of course, a serious presentation is never going to do just that. It needs to be carefully put together. If that’s the bit you’re stuck with, it’s time to grasp Perfect PowerPoint Creation.
The more productive you are, the more time you can set aside for the online learning. And the more you learn the ‘know-how’, the more efficient you will become. It’s like receiving compound interest month after month after month.
If the gap is in more than your PowerPoint skills, explore other courses to help you with the rest of your Microsoft mastery.