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Paul McAvinchey
Co-founder of Product Collective
Asked a question last year

What are some tips when presenting a proposal/idea to executive leadership teams?

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In Product Collective Answers you can ask and answer questions and share your experience with others!

Know 300% about that topic you are presenting

Stand and Deliver by Dale Carnegie Training73 states that you should know 300% more than what you are presenting. This will position you well for managing objections, having informed opinions, and exuding confidence. 

Know your audience

Some people love a good story and that is what resonates with them. Others are more binary and expect data driven content.

Find pre-meeting alignment

If possible, identify key executives that you may be able to find alignment with ahead of meeting with the broader team. If these key executives are nodding along and agreeing with your idea many others will follow suite. 

Be honest

If you don't know the answer, that's okay! Just admit it. Executives are excellent BS detectors. If you are waffling, lying, or simply afraid to admit you do not know the answer you will lose credibility quickly!

Be clear and concise 

Do not ramble. Avoid using "uh" or other filler words regularly. Perhaps most importantly, don't answer questions that were not asked. 

Alan Albert
President, MarketFit

Don't start with your solution

Take your audience on a journey, leading them towards your solution.

Set the stage 

Set the context of your presentation in terms of the corporate strategy and product strategy. Make it clear that your pitch is in alignment with these strategies (assuming it is or can be presented that way). Show that you're on the same side as leadership.

Illustrate the problem

Show how addressing the problem is important enough to solve. Prove why it's important, not just to you, but to the company, product, and leadership. Provide evidence about the extent or importance of the problem -- demonstrate that you've really done your research.

Align on values

Before pitching any solution, share the criteria you've used to select your proposed solution over other potential solutions. Ideally, you're not just sharing your criteria, you're sharing the criteria as data you've collected. This means collecting input, in advance, to answer the question "How do we know the right solution when we see it?" 

Collect answers from all important stakeholders: team members, coworkers in other departments, executive leadership, and especially customers. Make sure that your prioritization of these criteria aligns with leadership's prioritization, or show why it should be adjusted due to the data you've collected.

When you present your criteria, make sure that leadership shares these same criteria, in the same order of importance. Avoid surprises. Make sure you've asked for their input and know their priorities before the presentation. 

Present multiple solutions

Show that you're not just pitching the first idea that came into your head. Present multiple, viable solutions, including your own, without bias towards any. Then evaluate them according to leadership's shared criteria. 

Show why your solution best meets their criteria

Show how your proposed solution is the winner, according to your audience's criteria. You're not trying to change their mind. You're showing why their strategy, values and criteria make your solution the right choice. By the time you reach this point of the presentation, they should already have reached the same conclusions that you have.

Summarize

Share how the proposed solution fits into the corporate strategy, and product strategy. Remind them why the problem is important enough to address. Summarize the shared criteria. And share how their criteria lead inevitably towards your solution. Smile.

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