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Less time, less data earn more kudos from CEOs

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

If you're preparing to deliver a presentation to the top brass, remember three words: Less is more.

Impatient CEOs want your conclusion, pronto. If they're interested in how you arrived at that conclusion or your supporting evidence, statistics or analysis, they'll ask for it later or assign a subordinate to review it.

Senior executives can become frustrated as soon as they suspect a speaker isn't advancing rapidly and decisively toward a clear conclusion. Most CEOs have two guiding principles when listening to a manager's presentation: Don't tell me more than I need to know, and start by stating your recommendation or summarizing your main point.

Pruning away fluff in a presentation sounds easy. But many managers, especially the smartest ones, tend to cram as much data as they can into their remarks.

They may want to show off their vast knowledge and expertise. Or they may figure they'll sell their recommendations more effectively by building up to them with a flood of supporting facts.

To plan an airtight presentation to top officials, identify the three most important points you want to plant in their heads that justify your proposal. Number them as bullets and show a slide that lists all three—and nothing else.

Don't allude to nonessential information and then say, "I can share this with you later if you'd like." Instead, state your conclusion based on your three most critical pieces of evidence. Executives will request details if they're curious.

Resist showing too many slides. Putting people in a darkened room for more than a minute or two dulls their senses and tires them out.

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