The Pyramids are an effective way to organize information that can quickly be digested—ideal for executive audiences.
- Imagine this. A team is about 10 minutes into a great presentation when the senior executive, the one who has the final say on the team's recommendation, steps out to take an important call. Crestfallen, the team continues on, knowing that the executive won't ever hear their beautiful arguments and perfectly constructed points. All that prep to waste. But there's a way around this. A pyramid organizational pattern. A pyramid organizational pattern is just as it sounds.
Your key idea is at the top, one of the very first things you share with your audience. It's followed by supporting information, and then a discussion of how your team came to make that conclusion. In the US military, putting the key message up front is a standard expectation. They call it BLUF, presenting the bottom line up front. When you're presenting to executives, all time is borrowed, so you need to treat every moment of their attention like it's your last.
A pyramid organizational pyramid ensures your presentation won't fall victim to their busy schedule and urgent responsibilities. The main point is up front, and the supporting details become more granular and removed from the main point as the presentation continues. When the pyramid is well-executed, each part of the presentation sets up a logical question in the audience's mind, which is answered by the presenter before they need to ask. This structure makes it very easy to follow the logic of the recommendation.
Let's look at an example. Let's say your team is recommending that your client, Jenny's Pizza, expand their business by opening a franchise in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana. The logical question in your client's mind would be, why? Your team would then provide Jenny with three reasons why. One, a growing target demographic. Two, no competition within 100 miles. And three, state tax rates in Indiana are lower. The first point about the growing target demographic would lead Jenny to ask, by how much, or how do you know? This is where your team would present evidence of recent trends in the population that mirror the target demographic of your client.
The second point, about local competition, would be supported by a market analysis and research conducted on local businesses with similar products. To prove the final point, the team could show the current state business tax rates in Indiana, and how they compare to places where the client currently operates. When you're fairly certain the audience will agree with your recommendation, you don't need to spend as much time on the why's. If they agree with your team's rationale, you can skip right to the how, or the implementation strategy.
Instead of going into detail about why your idea is a good one, you can build out your pyramid discussing how your idea would be implemented. What are our next steps? How long would it take? And how does your team know this? These are the types of questions your presentation will answer following the pyramid logic. Presenting to executive audiences can seem daunting, but if you juts remember to organize your presentation in a pyramid, answering the questions you anticipate your audience will have about your recommendation, your team will be glad you took this extra step in the end.
- Planning for a cohesive presentation
- Developing memorable content
- Creating a logical flow
- Building in seamless transitions between presenters
- Practicing and delivering a team presentation