Cathy was struggling to communicate effectively to her boss. “Bob’s always interrupting me, and I lose my train of thought. I was allocated 20 minutes and I spent a lot of time preparing my presentation and I never get to finish it. I end up being flustered and frustrated.”

One of the questions that comes up frequently in my workshops is how do I persuade up? This is especially difficult when you have an Alpha personality type who wants your conclusion now!

My answer is always the same: Get to the point, fast!

I have written about this previously with Clarity is King and The Best Speakers Start from the Top, so I was delighted when I heard that the consulting group McKinsey uses a similar tool based on the Minto Pyramid Principle.

Here’s how it works 

Start with what is important to them and  address their primary question and burning issues 

Clump your supporting information into three main points and ensure they flow logically.

Back up your presentation with relevant facts and evidence. You may choose to include this as a handout or an emailed report for those who need more detail.

This is an excellent strategy when you are presenting to a senior executive who is short on time. The beauty of this structure is that it enables you to lengthen or shorten your presentation as required. It’s also great when you get the curly question as you can dive into your detail as needed. 

I suggested to Cathy that she try a ‘flipped presentation’.

Rather than speak for 20 minutes with only time for a few questions, she should ‘flip it’ and deliver a short presentation allowing more time for questions. I also suggested that she set the scene and manage expectations by saying “I am going to give you a 5-minute executive summary with my recommendations and after that I welcome your questions.”  

Do you have Cathy’s problem? If you do, give this presentation structure a crack and let me know how you go. And if you manage others, don’t be a Bob. 

Sharon Ferrier
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All Good Presentations Start With a Confident Speaker

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