How to Conduct Competitive Intelligence Briefings for Executives

When presenting a competitive intelligence report to anyone on the executive team, including the CEO, you need to bring your A game. A shoddy presentation not only undermines the CI team’s efforts to persuade the executive team of the need to take action but can also cause long-term harm to CI’s reputation. To craft and perform a quality presentation, follow these suggestions:

  • If you’re doing a PowerPoint presentation, keep it succinct and use lots of white space. Slides should include only key ideas — no sentences or paragraphs. You flesh out the presentation when you deliver it through what you say.

  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse until you feel comfortable delivering your presentation. After all, the goal is to establish yourself as a knowledgeable expert. If you find yourself hesitating or stumbling at certain points in the presentation, you may need to revise it or rehearse more.

    Never read aloud to your audience. It often annoys and offends people (they can read faster than you can talk), plus it usually indicates that you haven’t prepared for your presentation and probably don’t really have a good working knowledge of it.

  • Practice in the same venue (and the same room, if possible) prior to your presentation and in front of an audience. Ask your CI team members to serve as your practice audience and provide constructive feedback.

  • Capsulize your information to make it easy to swallow. Executives have little time and even less patience to process information. You need to digest it for them and present the highlights. If they want details, they can ask for more.

    Condense your entire presentation into a one-page (max) executive summary. Include an additional page of detail for each of the key points highlighted.

  • Control handouts. Don’t distribute your executive summary or any other documents prior to your presentation. You don’t want people reading while you’re speaking. You can distribute copies of slides for note taking, but hold on to support documents until after the presentation.

  • Always have a backup. Bring printed copies of slides in case your technology fails.

  • Use less time than you’re allotted to leave some time for questions and discussion at the end.

  • Wear professional attire. Dress like an executive.

  • If more than one person from CI is involved in the presentation, only one of you should be standing at any given time.

  • Have a timekeeper to alert you of time limits.

  • Be serious and professional. No jokes or mannerisms (such as clicking a pen, tapping on the conference table, or leaning on the podium).

  • Match the volume of your voice to the size of the room.

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