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How to Give a Presentation to Senior Management & Executives in 2021 (+ Expert Tips)


Do you have a big presentation to the C-Suite coming up? Use these executive presentation tips to deliver an attention-getting presentation. Keeps top execs engaged and interested.

Executive presentations PowerPoint template
Business slideshow presentations, such as those found on Envato Elements, are perfect for presenting data to executives.

It happens. You prep all night for an executive presentation, then it doesn't go as smoothly as it did in your head. It's not flowing, and you feel like your audience is kind of bored. 

To prevent your audience from saying "thank you; next," you'll need to up your presentation game.

This tutorial will show you how to present a presentation to senior management so you can keep their attention. You'll also see some of the best executive presentation formats and management presentation samples from Envato Elements and GraphicRiver. 

Best PowerPoint Executive Presentation Templates (With Unlimited Use)

A good place to find executive PowerPoint presentation templates is Envato Elements. They've got a great offer to take advantage of today. Download as many management presentation templates as you want for one low price. 

 download as many executive presentation templates as you want for one low price
Business PowerPoint templates that are perfect for executive presentations on Envato Elements - with unlimited access

For a head start with designing your slides, check out the executive presentation templates on Envato Elements. 

Get unlimited business PowerPoint templates with Envato Elements
Choose between thousands of business presentation templates on Envato Elements.

For well-designed executive slide decks that grab and hold your audience's attention, turn to Envato Elements. 

Here are some of the PowerPoint templates for executive presentations:

Envato Elements is great if you need a range of template designs for several executive presentations. But, if you need a single template for one-off use, then check out the affordable business PowerPoint templates on GraphicRiver. These popular templates for executive presentations will help you create eye-catching management presentations. And at a price that suits your budget.

If you're preparing an executive presentation in PPT, you want it to be the best it can be. Read on for tips on presenting to senior management and other executives.

15+ Tips for Better Executive Presentations in 2021 (+ Expert Advice)

PowerPoint executive presentation template
PowerPoint executive presentation templates such as those found on Envato Elements give your executive presentation a professional edge.

Are you planning on presenting recommendations to senior management? Use the following tips to create more effective executive presentations:  

1. Research Your Audience

When preparing for a presentation to senior management, a little research goes a long way. A good place to start is LinkedIn. Because it's business-oriented, LinkedIn can help you find the interests and background of the executives you'll be presenting to. You may be presenting to a group, but they're all individuals with different roles and focuses. 

executive presentation format
This clean and simple template would work well for an executive slide deck. 

For example, when presenting recommendations to senior management, know that the data you'll present to the CFO might not interest the CMO, and vice versa. Some people might be passionate about a particular topic or turned off by it. And some of your recommendations may have bigger implications for some departments than others.  Researching your audience as individuals helps you tailor your executive presentation to them.

Author and public speaker Pamela Hilliard Owens suggests:

"After you have been awarded the presentation opportunity, take the time to visit the company’s website and research the bios of each person who will be in your audience. Pay particular attention to the person’s title and position in the company as well as to what is important to them. If possible, try to get to know the person by name and title so that you can address them and/or their top issues or concerns as you prepare and present your topic."

Author, speaker and coach, Nicole Fende of The Numbers Whisperer, adds:
"There’s no excuse to skip audience research.  It only takes one or two targeted examples to turn your presentation into a personal experience. Leverage the hobbies and interests of your audience to select examples which support your message."

2. Research the Niche

Sometimes it's as important to understand the niche you're presenting in as the audience. Mitch Mitchell, President and CEO of T.T. Mitchell Consulting, says:

"Audience research is important if you're addressing people with certain skills that might be out of the norm. For instance, if you're addressing an audience of nurses and medical people, it helps to know something in regards to how they work and what they deal with. The same goes for teachers. Depending on the presentation, I might not do audience research for most industries, but I might do market research on the topic so the presentation would be pertinent."

3. Prime the Audience

Andy Crestodina, Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Orbit Media Studios, who gives 100+ presentations a year, says prepping your audience in advance is a good way to ensure your presentation is well-received:

"The key to a great presentation is to prime the audience.

Make sure everyone knows the point of the presentation. State the goal of the meeting up front, in the meeting invite and on the first slide. 

Make sure each point is concise. If you’re using a deck, limit it to only one idea per slide. 

Never read slides. They’re there to support you, not replace you. 

If there are deeper details, keep them in your back pocket (often at the end of a deck) and be ready to show them if necessary. 

If there are likely dissenters, discuss things with them prior to the presentation. If you get surprising, negative feedback during a presentation, you likely didn’t prep that person well enough in advance!"

4. Tailor Your Presentation to Your Audience

Research your audience and niche. Then use that information to create a stellar presentation that meets their needs. Author, speaker and trainer Amma Marfo says:

"The key for clear communication with senior management is speaking in a language that they understand. So, as an expert on the topic at hand, consider filtering it through their lens. Are they primed to be moved by strong statistics? Make sure that you have quantitative proof of impact. If they’re convinced a given issue doesn’t exist? Come prepared with testimonials from impacted parties. Take note of not just what you want to share, but how they want to hear it."

Amma Marfo adds that it's vital to understand where your presentation fits into the bigger picture of an organization's needs. That way you can make sure you get it right:
"When I prepare to present to a company or organization, I make sure to spend time with organizers going over the context in which I’ll be speaking. What organizational issues might impact how people hear me when I arrive? How might people feel about this topic, and will it be an uphill climb for me to educate them on this? Without that context, I may be successful in delivering a talk, but I’ll have no idea if I can be impactful."

5. Project Confidence

When presenting data to executives, how you appear is almost as important as the data itself. That's why it's good to project the right body language. If you slouch, seem stressed, and don't look at your audience, then you'll wind up alienating them. Your presentation will seem boring, even if it really isn't.

management presentation sample
Ideal for a management presentations, there are plenty of ways to highlight your company profile in this template.

But, when you look confident, have a relaxed demeanor, and make eye contact, it makes your audience more interested in what you've got to say. Check out our article on the importance of body language in presentations for more tips on using body language to win over your audience.

Nicole Fende has two unusual, but attention-getting, tips for projecting confidence as a presenter, by using lightsabers (yes, really!) and improv:

"I own 8 (yes 8!) movie replica lightsabers and often ask my clients to hold one.  Even people who’ve never seen Star Wars will stand straighter and carry themselves with more confidence.  Find your touchstone and hold it while you rehearse or right before your presentation. Please note, I do not recommend taking the lightsaber into your presentation unless George Lucas will be there.

When things go wrong the key is riding out the moment calmly.  Improv teaches you how to handle even the craziest of scenarios and keep going. Improv has improved my presentation skills exponentially."

6. Lead With the Summary

The term "executive summary" exists for a reason. It's a good way to think of the starting point for executive presentations. 

The ideal executive presentation format is to lead with a summary of the key facts they need to know on the first slide. This helps focus their attention and create interest. When you get straight to the point, they'll know they're not wasting their time—and you're not wasting it, either. Here's a high level executive summary PowerPoint example using the Business PowerPoint template from Envato Elements:

high level presentation example
This summary slide shows what the presenter will talk about during the presentation.

It's ideal for busy execs who've dashed into your presentation at the last minute. This approach tells them why they're there and why they need to pay attention. Andy Crestodina agrees with this advice, but says it's useful for all presentations:

"The “executive summary” is important for the C-suite audience and anyone else. The reason is simple: people are not good listeners until they know that they are being listened to.

If you do too much talking up front, the listener will gradually grow uncomfortable as they wait to give their input. 

If you begin with a summary and then sit back and listen, you’ll quickly learn if there is support or objections. Then you can focus on those points as you continue the presentation. 

With this approach, the presentation adapted for the audience as you go. It isn’t a monolog, it’s a dialog. That is the goal. It should feel more like a conversation. Most people would rather have a conversation than sit through a presentation."

Mitch Mitchell suggests that whether you need a summary for an executive presentation depends on the audience's knowledge:

"I think it depends on what the audience may or may not know about the presentation up front. For instance, if they're unsure of the topic of the presentation, a summary would be prudent to hopefully get their attention. If they know what the topic is going to be then a summary might not be needed in a normal sense; an outline will do."

After the summary, expand on your key points. Even busy execs who can't stick around for the whole presentation will get the most important information. Once you're past the summary slide, then keep it simple. Explain the situation, offer a solution, and explain the benefits of that solution, with relevant supporting information and data.

how to present a presentation to senior management
Here's a high-level presentation example of an executive presentation slide that expands on a key point.

7. Make Your Presentation Flow

One of the best executive presentation tips I can share is to make your presentation flow by arranging information in a logical order. Once you've done your executive summary, then the slides that follow should outline the context. Cover those main points in order. 

While you're presenting, guide your audience to the key parts of your slides they should look at. Remember, while you're presenting, you're in charge.

8. Keep Your Executive Presentation on Topic

For an executive presentation, you may have to talk about business goals and values, business risks and opportunities. Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. Learn more about creating and SWOT analysis slides here:

Whatever your subject, the key thing when creating presentations for executives is to stay on topic. If you don't, your audience will lose interest fast. Use your presentation speaker notes to help you keep your presentation relevant.

9. Have a Single End Goal

When presenting recommendations to senior management, it's important to have a goal. Before you start, know what key recommendation you're leading to. Mention this in the executive summary. Then present the evidence to make a compelling rationale for your key takeaway.

10. Include Relevant Statistics

presenting recommendations to senior management
This modern presentation slide template has many options for sharing data in your executive presentation.

If you want to grab—and hold—the attention of the C-Suite, wow them with data. Using the right stats will make your executive presentations more compelling. Stats can also support the recommendations you make. One tip: check and double check your stats before you make your executive presentation.  A single error could undermine the validity of your whole pitch. 

Andy Crestodina advises:

"People want to believe we are rational decision makers, even when it’s not the case.

Statistics and data appeal to that rational part of the mind, letting decision makers feel like they are using data to make a good decision. But mostly, they help people rationalize the choices they have already mostly made. They are visual triggers for the confirmation bias.

To make them more effective in this role, make the analysis and conclusion obvious. Don’t show a spreadsheet. Show a simple chart with the analysis added so the point is 100% obvious. 

For example, if I was looking for support to create more long form content, I would show the trend data, but highlight the conclusion."

Here's a chart from Andy Crestodina that shows how effective the proper use of data with the analysis included can be:
Example stats presentation from Andy Crestodina

11. Present Data So It Gets Attention

When presenting data, it's important to remember that the figures tell a story. You want that story to be as clear as possible. Here are some tips to help you achieve that:

  • Decide on the right chart type for the data you're presenting. Whether you use bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts, Venn diagrams or another chart type will depend on the data you've got to present.
  • Avoid clutter as this can make data hard to read.
  • Use color wisely to help viewers distinguish among data points.
  • Ensure chart labeling is clear and helpful.

Nicole Fende recommends adding an interactive element to data presentation:

"Turn dry into compelling with an interactive presentation.  I will have people take out a coin, pick heads or tails, and flip it. If you chose correctly – congrats you’ve picked a successful company to copy. If your choice didn’t land – too bad, you’re following someone else right into failure. I use this to illustrate the risk in blindly copying another company’s pricing, policies, product offerings, strategy, etc.  It evokes emotion and involves three senses – visual, auditory, and touch."

Using executive presentation templates can also make your data stand out. Here's a high level presentation example, using the Sigma PowerPoint template, of how a small design tweak can make a big difference. In the first slide, all the bars are the same color. The audience is forced to check each line to figure out the percentages.

how to create a good report for senior management
This bar chart lacks visual interest because all the bars are the same color.

Look at the difference below! In the second chart, the addition of percentage labeling, and color contrast makes the data much easier to understand.

presenting data to executives
Adding color to the bar chart in your presentation to senior management creates visual interest. Plus, it makes your data easier to understand. 

12. Pay Attention to Slide Design

An important part of making your management presentation appealing is having well-designed slides with a coherent visual identity. Unless you're confident about your graphic design skills, consider getting a premade management presentation sample or template. This will save time on the design elements of your presentation. You can have the confidence that it'll look great. Pamela Hilliard Owens advises:

"If you think people are getting tired of Zoom calls, they are really tired of PowerPoint slides! When designing your slides, ensure that you, and not your slides, are the star of the show. Add only 2 or 3 bullet points to each slide, and use them only as an outline for your presentation. Remind your audience that they will receive a printout of the slides, so they won’t need to take notes. That way they can focus primarily on you and what you are saying, instead of focusing on reading the slides and writing while you are speaking." 

13. Watch Your Language

When preparing your presentation slides, pay attention to the words you use, and how you use them. Avoid unnecessary jargon—when people don't understand it, that's a major turnoff. And keep slide text short and focused on the essentials. That gives people time to read it and avoids an off-putting wall of text.

Here's an example, using the Sepi business PowerPoint theme. On the first slide, there's a chunk of text, which most people will find hard to read.

creating presentations for executives
This executive PowerPoint presentation slide has too much text.

The second slide is better, extracting the key points and putting them in bullet point form.

executive presentation ppt
For the second slide, we've edited the text to make the slide easier to scan.

14. Get Your Timing Right

It's worth repeating that it pays to keep executive presentations short and focused. Don't make the mistake of creating a presentation that fills your whole time slot. If there's one thing you can count on, it's interruptions from your audience.

Allow for that in advance by making your presentation shorter than the allotted time. Plan for questions and interruptions. For time-crunched execs, a presentation that finishes early while still providing value is a bonus.

That said, you don't want to finish so early they feel short-changed. Amma Marfo recalls learning a lesson about presentation timing:

"Sometimes this is awkward for people, but practice, practice, practice. I made this mistake early in my speaking career - assuming there’d be longer periods for engagement and question, I finished what I thought would be an hourlong presentation…in twelve minutes. Now, when I put together a session on a new topic, I test it out - you can do this alone with a timer, or with a small group of trusted colleagues to simulate any interactive parts of the presentation for you."

executive presentation tips
This executive PowerPoint presentation template has many options for presenting to senior management.

15. Expect the Unexpected

Speaking of questions, there's no telling what those execs might ask. It's wise to prepare for the unexpected and do some research around your presentation topic. That'll help you be ready for any questions that come out of left field. 

That also goes for any data you include. Identify areas where people are likely to ask questions and have extra supporting data to help answer them.

how to present a presentation to senior management

Every now and then, you'll get a completely unexpected question. Don't panic. If you don't know the answer immediately, don't be afraid to say so. Just promise to check your facts and get back to the questioner with the answer in a short time. 

16. Practice in Advance

When it comes to delivering the perfect executive presentation, practice makes perfect. Run through your executive slide deck as many times as it takes to know your material inside out. Have a mental picture of where the supporting information is for each of your main points. That'll help you find it quickly if someone asks a specific question. Mitch Mitchell comments:

"I've always over-prepared. I put together an outline, I make sure I know all the answers to everything I want to talk about, then I rehearse upwards of 5-7 times to get the timing correct. The worst thing is to come across as unprepared or unprofessional; no one likes being rambled at." 

Pamela Hilliard Owens agrees:

"Practice, practice, practice, and be yourself. You were hired for your experience, your expertise, your personality, and your ability to relate to your audience. As you prepare your presentation, put yourself in the shoes and minds of your audience. Ask yourself: What are my goals for this presentation? Do my goals match the goals of the person/group to whom I am presenting? What are the specific “takeaways” I want for my audience? Am I speaking so that the people in my audience actually want to hear what I am saying?"

17. Step Away From the Podium

Don't be afraid to move away from the PowerPoint presentation and use a whiteboard to illustrate a key point. Switching up maintains interest and shows you know your stuff. It makes for an appealing presentation.

Grab Some Professional Presentation Templates

Find more high-level presentation examples in the articles below:

Learn More About Presentations

Want some more help with creating presentations for executives? Check out the tutorials below for more guidance:

Don't Miss Our New Free Online Presentation Guide

Now that you've been through our tutorial, do you want to learn even more about public speaking? We've got the resource for you! We'll take you through the complete process to get you ready for your next executive presentation in PPT—from start to finish.

The Complete Guide to Making Great Business Presentations in 2019

Don't miss our new free online presentation guide, The Complete Guide to Making Great Business Presentations. It's chock full of powerful business presentation advice to help you make your next business presentation your best yet.

Get a Unique Executive Presentation Template Today!

Now, it's over to you. Choose one of the PowerPoint templates we've shared in this tutorial. Or go to Envato Elements for a stunning executive PowerPoint presentation template that'll make your audience take notice. Look at GraphicRiver's best PowerPoint templates or business PowerPoint templates for even more choice. 

Download your favorite executive presentation template today.

Editorial Note: This article was original published on November 4th, 2019. It's been updated to include new information by Sharon Hurley Hall.

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