Coaching Presentations: Presenting to Upper Management

Sometimes coaching presentations take on a bit more importance when the topic is tied to the board of management somehow. This creates an even greater need to ensure that the language is clear, concise, and professional. That’s where I was able to help out.

With the growing possibility that a quota system will be introduced to ensure there is a fixed percentage of women in all European companies working at executive level, DP DHL is taking its own initiative. A group-wide survey was carried out to see the impact of culture, local working practice and national laws on aiding, or preventing, women reaching higher positions of responsibility.

With feedback gathered from surveys and focus groups, the responsibility for keeping the Group’s board members informed of the developing situation falls to the HR division’s department of Corporate Culture. With an international board looking for signs of real progress, the task to present feedback and next steps with the required specificity is a significant challenge.  Extensive topic knowledge and excellent English skills provide a great foundation, but in order to gain the extra edge the department leader of Corporate Culture enlisted my help.

Preparing to perform

After a short but thorough briefing on the current status of the project, I was able to form a clear picture of what the next update presentation needed to accomplish. The following step involved me listening to each section being described and using the advantageous position of ‘outsider’ to cross-check what was not immediately clear. This technique helped me mirror the reactions of board members who may not to be familiar with the finer details of the Women in Leadership initiative. Through frequent questioning and by repeating the section with more clarity each time, Frau Muehlbach became more at ease with the information and was able to hone the essential message for greater audience impact.

Tailoring a language toolbox

With the key messages from each section now being clear and concise, the groundwork was set for giving the presentation greater bite. This process involved Frau Muehlbach and me brainstorming key phrases to be used to introduce and conclude each section of the presentation. Having established two or three options to choose from, Frau Muehlbach tried out each one within its surrounding context, while I played audience to determine which words carried the most effect.

Honing delivery style

With each section of the presentation having clear information, and the linking language now holding the attention of the listeners, it was time to analyze the presentation when delivered as a whole. Through several practice runs, I was able to highlight where Frau Muehlbach should increase pace, think about a dramatic pause or correct a word that was being mispronounced.

Seeing change in the boardroom

Using this technique, Frau Muehlbach has been able to make several successful Board and international conference presentations on the status of the Women in Leadership initiative. With each success comes more confidence which, in turn, breeds further success. This is a key example in transferring knowledge to the workplace.  Who knows, maybe the effect of the latest presentation was behind the Board’s recent decision to appoint DP DHL’s first female board member!