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CEOs are challenging their marketing and communications teams to help chart the future of their organizations. It is their skills as conceptual thinkers that enable these communicators to envision the possibilities for supporting the organization’s goals.
If this is the case, then why do so many chief executives resist the recommendations of the very people they have selected to help drive change throughout the organization?
There can be many reasons, of course, from ill-conceived ideas to lack of budget, to the indifference of line managers. But the real culprit may be something very different. While communicators may be conceptual thinkers, their CEOs are more likely ruled by logic and hard facts. They tend to approach problem solving in a linear fashion.
Sound recommendations may fail because they aren’t organized the way CEOs think. That is why it’s so important to structure recommendations for marketing and communications programs that immediately demonstrate how they will benefit the organization because that’s the chief executive’s bottom line, especially during a tough economy.
Here are some tips for delivering a winning presentation to get approval for important recommendations:
- Opening: outline the broad subject of the presentation
- Presentation objective: this is the overall statement of how your ideas will benefit the organization. This is where a lot of presentations go wrong because the presenter leads with what he or she wants. Rather, the statement should answer top management’s question: why should I listen to this presentation; what’s in it for the company?
- Key message points: think of your message as newspaper headlines supporting the benefits outlined in your presentation objective. How will the recommendations increase sales, save money, build a brand?
- Supporting evidence: use facts, sales projections, statistics, etc., to back up your key messages.
- Recommendations: summarize your key points and then propose a course of action for approval. Know the decision you want in advance.
- Discussion: This is the most important part of your presentation. As you lead the discussion, you will build commitment for your recommendations, address any objections, and refine your proposal based on the discussion so that you get a favorable decision.
- Summary: summarize the agreed-upon desired action. Even if all your recommendations aren’t accepted, don’t leave the meeting without a commitment to some sort of action. For example, if you can’t get your entire program approved, try to come away with a pilot project.
Remember, your overall goal is to link your programs to the company’s goals. Do that and you will win more than you lose. You’ll also gain the CEO’s respect for thinking like he does.