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The Key to Presenting to Senior-level Managers

Managing Up
New PM

17 May, 2021

Ezequiel Aguilar
Ezequiel Aguilar

Senior Principal Product Manager at Red Hat

Ezequiel Aguilar, Principal Product Manager at Red Hat, shares some successful ideas on presenting bigger ideas to the senior management.

Problem

When it comes to presenting to your senior executives, you know that it is going to have a significant impact on your career. While I had never been in that kind of situation before, this was my first shot at presenting new ideas. That is when I realized that I have a lot to tell them, but do they have the time to hear it out all? I had to get to the point right away, giving them some background information about my plan to make decisions efficiently. The biggest question in all of this is: How?

It could be even more frustrating when you are faced with impatient executives, partly because of their busy schedules. I have learned that the harder way. There was no way I could ramble in front of them because they would not be willing to sit through a lengthy presentation for the big reveal at the end. Some seniors would interrupt before I could present my point.

Actions taken

I did not shy away; instead, I took support and advice from people I refer to as mentors. However, it is important to stay focused and tell them about how they can help you. Share the things that you would like to discuss with your mentor and try to get as much feedback as you can. You would notice that the advice from mentors was great learning that can help anyone to be invested.

Before I got into action, I read some books and resources that would help me get some perspective. More often than not, we do not realize this, but books are the kind of inspiration and motivation that we need. There are plenty of books that teach us how to deal with such situations. Books are also written by experts and experienced professionals, who might have faced similar problems, so it is also wise to look up to their challenges and learn from them.

Nonetheless, once I was a bit confident from all the advice, guidance, and support from the books and my mentors, I proceeded to practice them. I addressed where the problems might have come from and created plans to work on them strategically. It did take me a while, but I was finally on track. Determining how to make changes where needed, making a plan, and creating a timeline for progress was the way to nurture positivity.

Lastly, I listened carefully. For instance, after a meeting, a few people would come up and say, “you could have pointed that out,” I took note of such feedback. I had to be a little diligent to find out the inner meaning of what they were trying to say, or what their expectations were. I worked towards the feedback provided to me and circled back with them to see how it was going from their perspective. This cleared the air.

Lessons learned

  • Stay focused and be confident when you are giving out a compelling presentation. While it might not be an easy task for anyone to put forward some ideas in front of the senior-level managers, having a confident attitude helps overcome feeling shy.
  • Always be prepared for the unexpected questions that might be coming your way. Rehearse your presentation and know in your heart that you have done all you can to prepare yourself.
  • Never forget to or shy away from taking all the support you need from the senior-level managers. They might be busy, but their mentorship brings the best out in anyone.

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