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As a leading communication skills development firm, The Ammerman Experience pioneered a wide range of interactive workshops and training sessions designed to show people how to face the media, manage crisis situations, speak at public meetings, and deliver effective sales, analyst, and other business related presentations. Through our quarterly newsletter, the Advisor, we share some of our expertise in these areas.

5 Tips for CEOs Who Don’t Like Presenting

Published: Aug 08, 2016

Without thinking too hard, you can probably name a handful of CEOs who enjoy making presentations, talking about their company and the products it makes, and even spending time talking with the media.

CEOs such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg all enjoy presentations – sometimes flashy ones, sometimes modest ones, but always entertaining and educational. Perhaps the king of CEO presentations was Apple’s Steve Jobs.

Jobs was the classic showman. With his trademark look of a black turtleneck and jeans, people the world over would stop what they were doing to watch his presentations online whenever Apple had a new phone, tablet, or computer to unveil.

Not all CEOs, though, like making presentations. In fact, some CEOs downright loathe the idea of getting up in front of a large group of people and talking about anything. Even though it’s been shown that CEOs who talk about their strategies are usually rewarded by Wall Street, it still doesn’t change the hearts and minds of some who would rather not have to deal with presentations of any type.

There are a myriad of reasons why certain CEOs hate the idea of making presentations. Fear of public speaking is always high on the list. If, as a CEO, you’re set to make an important presentation about your company in front of a massive audience filled with employees, investors, and media, it’s understandable if you’re nervous. If you have a fear of public speaking, it’s less likely you have “nerves” and more likely you’re this close to having a full-blown panic attack.

Other reasons CEOs might not like the idea of presenting could also include the fear of making a poor presentation, coming across as ignorant, or even unintelligent. It might even be that a CEO just isn’t comfortable enough in their own skin; could be they don’t have a problem speaking to small groups, but they aren’t comfortable in front of large crowds. This could lead to all the fears mentioned previously compounded into one big ball of self-doubt.

While CEO presentation training is the ideal solution in this situation, here are a few tips that can help you, as the CEO, become a little more comfortable with making presentations of all sizes.

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Unexpected

If you know what to expect before you make your presentation, you’ll have an easier time with it. What’s going to happen when you get on stage? Will it go smoothly? If you’re using a teleprompter, will it stop working? What happens if the projector isn’t working? What will you do if you just blank up there and forget everything? Will people start booing? Will they walk out? Will you lose your job?

Of course, a lot of these scenarios are mere hyperbole, but it proves the point. When you walk on the stage, you should be prepared mentally in the event that every bad thing that possibly could happen actually happens.

You might be asking yourself, “Well, if I’m thinking about all of these things that could go wrong, won’t that make me MORE nervous?” There is a modicum of truth to that, but there’s a great way to overcome it.

Mentally preparing yourself for as many different outcomes as possible actually gives you a surprising amount of confidence going into the presentation. If you’ve prepared mentally for the something bad to happen, such as the projector not working, you’re less likely to be rattled and more likely to be prepared with a way to handle it.

Bad things happen during presentations all the time. There’s a good chance you’ve been in the audience for a presentation when something went off script. How was it handled? Did the CEO panic, or were they prepared – perhaps made a lighthearted joke – and moved on? This is the benefit of being prepared mentally for all situations.

Be Bigger Than Yourself

There’s a good chance, as the CEO of your company, you probably didn’t take too many theatre classes in college. You might be surprised to know some theatrics are involved when doing presentations.

Thank about it – you’re on stage in front of audience who came to see you give a “performance.” What you’re doing is similar to putting on a show. Your presentation, hopefully, has a natural flow – beginning, middle, and end – just like a play. So, what does this all have to do with giving an effective presentation?

Every time you give a presentation, you are giving what you should hope to be the performance of your life. That means you should seek to be bigger than your everyday demeanor. You are the performer here, and you should definitely act the part. It comes down to your stage presence, and how well you do will determine what the audience thinks when they leave the room.

To be clear, you’re not performing Shakespeare. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be bigger than yourself. What this means is basically this: the people in the audience have come to watch you. Make it worth their time.

This is a great time for you, if you’re a little reserved, to come out of your shell. If you spend the entire time on stage in one spot giving a speech that would put insomniacs to sleep, your audience is not only going to be miserable, but they will not think highly of your presentation. These presentations can be morale boosters for employees, and a way to reassure investors about the future of the company. They should all leave the room excited and pumped about what you’ve said and the direction you’re taking the company.

If you’ve ever dreamed of being an actor, here’s the best time to live out that dream. Just a word of caution, though: don’t overdo it. Be excited, move around on stage, make jokes, keep the audience entertained, but don’t overact. Too much of a good thing is just as bad as not enough of a good thing.

Make a Connection with the Audience

It wasn’t too long ago that CEOs were encouraged to stick to a specific script. Don’t veer away from the script, so went the advice; and, whatever you do, don’t ramble on about this or that. After all, long, boring stories would be off-putting for the audience and cause them to lose interest in the presentation.

Today, this bit of advice has been placed where it needs to be – in the trash. While it’s certainly important to have a structure to your presentation, it’s good to weave in storytelling elements to keep the audience interested in what you’re saying.

Presentations filled with nothing but numbers, jargon, and corporate lingo always fail. Your audience leaves wondering what they just watched and why their time was wasted. Always keep your audience in mind and, if you’ve had CEO presentation training, learn how to read the crowd. By adding things such as relevant stories, humor, and maybe even some audience participation, you can not only keep the audience engaged, but keep them entertained as well.

Think back again to a presentation you attended. Did the speaker tell you a story that related to what was being discussed? Did they interact with audience members by asking them questions? Did they add things that made you laugh?

If you answered yes to those questions and remember those things taking place, that is the proof of a successful presentation. You remembered these elements from the presentation and were entertained.

The key to all of this is emotion. As the CEO of your company, you can be a lighthearted, funny, personable leader, but if you walk on stage and act like an automaton, everyone loses interest. If you are a charismatic CEO off stage, bring that charisma with you on stage. If you’re reserved, you can succeed, too – practice can help you to craft an engaging on-stage persona. Make a solid connection with your audience right off the bat and hold that connection throughout the presentation.

Control the Presentation

Because it’s your presentation, you need to be in control of it. Again, if this were a play, you know it needs a good opening, something to push it forward, and a conclusion that wraps everything up. With your presentation, you know going in exactly what you need to talk about – all you need to do is figure out how to put everything in order so it has the best flow.

To go from Point A to Point B to Point C, you’re going to have to use some sort of segue. How do Point A and Point B connect? Is there a personal story you can think of that would help you get from Point A to Point B seamlessly? If you’re going from Point B to Point C, is that a good time for a little audience participation?

Here’s how folks such as Musk, Bezos, and Zuckerberg do it. They craft a narrative. They don’t memorize a script – and neither should you! They have the points they know they need to discuss in their head, and they have done all the research about each point so they can talk about them freely at any time.

There might be a teleprompter – and if you’re going to use one, make sure you practice with it first – but there might not be. They’ve rehearsed the overall flow of the points and have a good idea of what they’re going to say about each. They also have a good idea how they’re going to get from Point A to Point B and beyond, BUT, and this is important, it’s not set in stone.

Allow yourself flexibility in your presentation to be yourself. If you want to talk a little more about one point, or if you see something or remember something during the presentation, give yourself the opportunity to expound upon those things. The main takeaway here is this: Have a structure for the presentation, but allow yourself ample wiggle room.

Know When You Need CEO Presentation Training

After reading all of this, you’re probably thinking one of two things – either you’ve gained new wisdom into making presentations and you’re excited about your next one, or you’re set firmly in the “I still don’t like doing presentations” camp.

It’s OK. There are a lot of CEOs out there, just like you, who really dislike – even hate – giving presentations, but you would never know it by watching and listening to their presentations. These CEOs are able to flip the switch in their minds that allows them to move into show mode and give presentations people talk about for a long time. But how?

The answer is CEO presentation training. With the help of professionals, such as those at The Ammerman Experience, CEOs can learn valuable techniques and tricks of the trade, so to speak. You’ll learn how to combat stage fright and nervousness, how to field questions during your presentation, and even the best way to craft an effective and memorable presentation.

With 43 years of experience as a leading communication skills development firm, The Ammerman Experience has helped create interactive workshops, training sessions, and can even offer one-on-one support. The experts here use CEO presentation training to mold executives into powerful presenters. You can be one, too.

Let us help you become the presentation master you always wanted to be. Contact us today to find out how CEO presentation training can help you improve your presentation skills and inspire your audiences.

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