The very thought of having to present to your boss or the management team can leave even the most talented professional feeling quite anxious. Despite being an expert in your field, having been with the organisation for years and even feeling really passionate about your topic many of us would rather phone in sick.   This is often preferable rather than failing to impress your boss.  There is a very technical psychological term for our debilitating angst; it’s called ‘head stuff’.

‘What if she doesn’t like my idea?’

‘I’m worried she asks me a question I can’t answer.”

‘What if I freeze and end up looking stupid?’

These are just three of the countless crippling things many people say to themselves before they even say a word to their boss.

These five powerfully simple steps will help you to greatly dissolve much of that unwanted tension whilst ensuring that you impress your boss as well as yourself.

1. Let them know they are in the right room

How many times have you heard that the very first thing you must do to impress your boss and your colleagues is to get their attention?  I would argue that by virtue of the fact they have agreed to listen to you in the first place you already have their attention and it’s not enough.

Your first priority is to capture their interest and curiosity, in other words, the moment you begin speaking you need to say something that makes them glad they came. They will know that they are in the right room the very moment you tell them something that makes them feel either uncomfortable or excited.

It’s called the pain-pleasure principle and it’s the most powerful motivator we human beings have been using for thousands of years. Your first task is to draw their absolute attention to the pain that what you have to talk about is causing the business and how you have the cure. Alternatively, make sure that the very first thing that you say presents an opportunity that will immediately make them smile and want to know more.

Pain – We are losing 30,000 orders needlessly each year to our competitors… PAUSE… I know how we can get them back.

Pleasure – How would you feel if I could show you a way to secure 30,000 orders

2. Make it personal

As you craft and deliver your presentation make certain that every word you say and every slide you show is relevant and personal to your boss. That means you have to do two things.

Put yourself completely in their shoes and ask yourself what you would want from the presentation if you were the boss. Ask yourself if what you have to say will make a tangible impact on them or the business. If it doesn’t then don’t say it, consider sending them an email instead.

Ask yourself ‘so what?’ In other words, if your boss interrupts you after a sentence and says, ‘I understand but so what, why should I care about that?’  make sure you have an answer. They may not like or agree with your answer but they will know that you’ve definitely thought about it and made it part of your presentation for a good reason.

3. Think like a ‘tweet’

I’ve long held the belief that most business presentations are far too long and many are also far too boring.

To impress your boss, you need to know the only thing he really cares about is the clarity, power, and impact of your message. If you drone on and on speaking for 20 minutes before you deliver your message they won’t thank you for it. Equally, if you make them work hard to work out what your message actually is they will struggle to forgive you for that too.

If you can’t clearly and powerfully deliver your message in less than 140 characters it’s highly likely that you don’t have one.

That doesn’t mean you have to express it in less than 140 characters but it does mean that you have that laser-like clarity to make certain that everything you say supports it.

4. Bring it to life

How many times have you sat with glazed eyes as you discreetly stifled a yawn whilst the presenter dumped a load of data onto to you via PowerPoint? By all means give them the facts and the data but bring it to life with real examples of what the data means.

Tell them the story behind the significance of the data and make it easy for them to understand why you are sharing it.

5. What now?

Don’t let your presentation fizzle out like a damp old firework. You’ve worked hard to get this far now it’s time to tell them exactly what you want them to do with the information you have shared. If you want them to sign off a budget then ask for it. Also if you want their support or approval then ask for it.  If you just want them to have confidence in what you are doing and to leave you alone to get on with it then ask for that too.

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Maurice De Castro is a former corporate executive of some of the UK’s most successful brands. Maurice believes that the route to success in any organisation lies squarely in its ability to really connect with people. That’s why he left the boardroom to create a business helping leaders to do exactly that.