Pitching Strategy to C-Level

Last week one of my ardent readers, having read my Evaluate, Understand & Develop a Sustainable Business Strategy, send me a very interesting question. The question was:

Can we ensure our strategic recommendations are accepted by the C-level executive?

It made me take a step back. Whilst most of my posts are on the actual task of strategic planning, I had never written about how to get your strategic recommendations accepted by the CEO or COO. Thinking back brought back memories on some truly memorable occasions over my career of major presentations I’ve done to Boards and CEO’s. And with it came to fore an insight which is what I’d like to share with you today.

But before we rush headlong into the learning itself let’s keep this backdrop in mind– Like any presentation, major or minor, it’s extremely important that you understand your audience well. In this case, know the individual behaviour and work style your CEO or COO follows. Having this knowledge is half the battle won!

Any C-level executive anywhere in the world, irrespective of the type and size of the organisation, is an individual who is rushed for time, ever thinking about profit maximisation and cost reduction and extremely dependent on a core team to ensure business objectives and quarterly targets are met.

Now keeping this backdrop in mind and the fact that you’ve gotten all the data substantiation and required metrics justifying your strategic recommendations in your presentation what you need to undertake is to put yourself in the shoes of your CEO!

Remember the backdrop?

Now plan the presentation exactly as you would expect it if you were the CEO.

  1. Remember time is a critical element to the CEO and he or she would truly not appreciate you running over and thus stealing his or her time.
  •  So get to the key recommendation within the first 2 minutes.

2.  Remember what the business priorities to the CEO are.

  •  Depict, either graphically (as a picture speaks a thousand words) or through short sentences, how the strategy helps the organisation in      the market-place.

3.   Remember he needs to look good to the Board (and you are the one that can make him look good!)

  •  Draw a vision with the recommended strategy. Do not use data & jargon or get into details at this point. Draw out the big picture and  highlight the key benefits over a 1-2 year period.

Now go and knock the socks of in your next C-level presentation!