Presenting Learning: Ensure CEOs Get the Value of Learning--Its All in the Presentation


Several years ago, a rather dandified fellow from inside a company gave a presentation to a board I sat on.

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CEOs must learn on the job, and they must learn while every stakeholder is Not surprisingly, research shows that between 35% and 50% of all CEOs are Got to Do with It?”) We found that in effective companies, CEOs do not simply adopt . Finally, these executives tend to value seniority within the organization, often. Narrative memos have replaced PowerPoint presentations at Amazon. In his annual letter, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos repeated more effectively when it's presented in the form of a story, not bullet points. Stories inform, illuminate, and inspire--all the things entrepreneurs strive to do.

He was snide at times, made several off-colour jokes, winked at board members and made his political leanings clear with side remarks about the government of the day. When the chair finally ended the presentation, we looked at each other in disbelief. I think you can guess how we voted. People present to corporate boards for many reasons—they could be suggesting a new direction for the company, explaining a complex legal issue that needs to be decided quickly, or simply giving an update on an ongoing project.

But boards come in all shapes and sizes , be they school boards, neighbourhood watch boards, apartment boards, non-profit boards or employee committees. No matter the context, the principles of presenting to decision-making bodies are the same, and getting it right is crucial. Think of your presentation as a memo, not a novel. Board members thrive on facts presented in a clear, concise manner.

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Even if you leave your presentation without getting the answer yes you hoped for, you will at least leave the people at the table with a good impression of you. And that will go a long way if you come back to the board with a revised proposal.

Give it a go and let me know if it helped, and if you know someone who is preparing to give a presentation, clip this and send it to them. Chances are not only will they be grateful, but so will the board members who hear the presentation. Published in collaboration with LinkedIn. The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum. More on the agenda. Explore the latest strategic trends, research and analysis. Know what you are walking into.

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Board meetings are often jam packed with a long agenda. Your topic is special to you, but you have a finite amount of time to get essential information across. Who is on the board? What is their background?

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It helps to be able to tailor the presentation when applicable, so you are not telling them things they already know, nor assuming knowledge they might not have. Send documents in plenty of time. I try to ensure board members get their papers at least a week in advance.

Role-modeling desired mind-sets and behavior

Send documents in plenty of time. Want to build swoon-worthy products? Global trade is broken. If you're giving a talk as part of a conference, try to attend some of the earlier talks by other presenters to scope out their presentation skills and get some context. Stories inform, illuminate, and inspire--all the things entrepreneurs strive to do. Great presenters make it look so effortless.

Give us the tools we need to make a decision. Know in advance how much time you have. Do not go over your allotment.

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If the chair feels more time is warranted, he or she will extend it. Make sure to leave plenty of time for questions. Ask how the board would like the information presented.

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That means you presume that everyone has reviewed the documents you sent in advance, and you will just address the most important points and avoid repeating every detail. Recently, I've talked to prominent neuroscientists whose experiments confirm what we've known for centuries: The human brain is wired for story. We process our world in narrative, we talk in narrative and--most important for leadership--people recall and retain information more effectively when it's presented in the form of a story, not bullet points.

Aristotle is the father of persuasion. More than 2, years ago he revealed the three elements that all persuasive arguments must have to be effective. He called these elements "appeals. Ethos is character and credibility. Logos is logic--an argument must appeal to reason.

2. Stories are persuasive.

But ethos and logos are irrelevant in the absence of pathos--emotion. Emotion is not a bad thing. The greatest movements in history were triggered by speakers who were gifted at making rational and emotional appeals: Kennedy, who blended science and emotion to inspire America's moon program. In other words, if you want your ideas to spread, story is the single best vehicle we have to transfer that idea to another person.

Take the focus off yourself for a more dynamic, memorable presentation.

Often, he says, the customer anecdotes are more insightful than data. Amazon uses "a ton of metrics" to measure success, explained Bezos.