You’ve got a great idea, but now you’ve got to persuade your boss or a senior leader to approve it, fund it or participate in it. But presenting your proposal can be nerve-wracking. You want to make your case in a convincing manner—and you certainly don’t want to bore your audience or look foolish.

Want fool-proof strategies to help you prepare a persuasive presentation? Here are five key steps:

1

Know your audience

This may seem obvious, but too often we get wrapped up in our own perspective and don’t focus on the person we’re talking to. What do you know about your boss or leader? Does he or she have an opinion about your topic? What keeps him or her up at night? How can you develop your messages to answer his or her concerns?

2

Set clear objectives

Make sure your presentation is designed to achieve your desired outcomes. Answer this question: What do you need your boss to know, believe and do as a result of your pitch? Don’t set too many objectives; focus on just a few.

3

Use evidence to make your case

Find data to support your argument. Mention industry studies. Highlight how other companies have succeeded with the same program you want to initiate. Show how a similar idea has worked on a smaller scale in your own organization.

4

Practice and prepare

Don’t just build your presentation; make sure you allow enough time for practice. Present to a mirror (or your dog), concentrating on being clear and concise. Imagine every possible tough question you could be asked and be ready with a simple, persuasive answer.

5

Don't just present; facilitate

Yes, you need to present, but the most successful pitches invite dialogue. Plan for interaction: ask questions, solicit viewpoints and get the conversation going. (Remember our motto: The more they talk, the smarter you sound.)

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