Executives have much on their plate and little time to get through it all.
When presenting PPC results to a CMO or VP of marketing, many marketers make the mistake of diving too far into the weeds of their work.
Tailoring your delivery to your audience is crucial for any communication, whether it’s a presentation, an email or a report.
Here are three ways to make your next delivery to an executive successful.
1. Start with a straightforward takeaway
There are instances where “save the best for last” is great advice. Presenting to executives is not one of them.
Executives are busy, and as a result, they’re often impatient. They need the CliffsNotes version, not the unabridged edition.
They need to know right off the bat what the takeaway should be.
In order to give them that takeaway, you first need to figure out what it is. My formula for the perfect takeaway has three primary parts:
- What did you do?
- What happened? (Tie this back to the main goals of the project or business if not readily apparent.)
- How should your audience feel about it and what you’re doing next?
Once you have these three elements, you have your default opener.
Your takeaway should start things off, whether it’s the first sentence of your email, the abstract of your report, or the opening slide of your presentation.
The beauty of this format is that it hits all the main points while limiting your ability to wax poetic about your process or secondary metrics that don’t actually matter to someone with a VP title.
The executive needs to know what you did, but they usually don’t need to know how you did it.
They need to know the results, but only as far as they affect the primary KPIs.
And they need to know how they should feel about it and what comes next.
Here is an example takeaway:
- We launched Performance Max campaigns at the beginning of last month.
- In the past eight weeks, these campaigns drove more leads at a lower cost than legacy campaigns. Notably, an 8% lower cost per acquisition and a 4% higher conversion rate.
- These are great early results that we expect to improve on in the coming months by launching additional Performance Max campaigns.
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This takeaway starts out by “naming” the project, so the executive can reference it later if needed.
It tells how the results affected the primary KPI (leads, in this case), even if the metrics we’re reporting on are tangentially related (CPA and CR).
And finally, since it’s a rare Executive that would know that a 4% increase in Conversion Rate in PPC is amazing, it tells them that these are really good results and what comes next.
2. Use data to support your takeaway, not distract
Now that you have your main takeaway, you have some clear direction about what should come next.
When it comes to selecting which data and graphics to include in your reports, use the following checklist.
Does my data visualization reference the metrics in my takeaway?
Use the metrics in your takeaway to guide the data you select. This ensures that the data you show is directly relevant to your main point.
It also helps you identify and rule out data that may be tangentially fascinating but doesn’t directly tie to what you’re trying to say.
Any charts or tables that don’t directly relate to your takeaway should be relegated to the appendix or shared later as supplementary,
Does my data visualization show where to look?
Data and charts can quickly get overwhelming, and executives need to know, at a glance, what’s important.
Visual representations should be included to help your audience understand data quickly, not muddy the waters.
Use arrows, callouts, highlights, and text to show exactly where someone’s attention should go. This is especially important if you include a table with multiple rows and columns.
Does my data visualization clearly say one thing?
A data chart should only convey one major point to avoid obscuring or overshadowing your takeaway.
You might be tempted to fall into the “more is better” trap, but resist the temptation.
Remember that successful results mean tailoring your presentation to your audience.
When your audience is executives, they need to know immediately why you are including a chart and what they should take from it.
This means that you need to be ruthlessly stingy when evaluating how necessary metrics are, and generous in creating new visualizations for each point.
If complex visualizations are necessary, use highlights, arrows, and callouts to draw attention to the part that really matters.
3. Run it by a colleague from another team
“The medium is the message” is a concept coined by communication theorist Marshall McLuhan.
He asserts that the way a message is delivered determines how that message will be received.
This means how you verbally present your slides is just as important as the content on your slides.
The words in between the data in your email determine how the data is accepted by the reader.
The style and delivery of your report matters as much as what the report is trying to say.
Even if you follow the above steps and know what you want your message to be, it can be difficult to know if it’s coming across the way you mean it to.
You can feel like you’re at the pinnacle of brevity compared to your usual delivery.
Still, it can come off as rambling and confusing to executives who don’t interface with you regularly and have no point of comparison.
To help evaluate the medium of your message and to ensure it makes sense to an executive, run your presentation or report by a colleague who is not knowledgeable about PPC and ask for specific feedback, such as:
- Is your takeaway clear?
- Is the main point evident quickly?
- Does the data clearly support your main point?
- Is there “fluff” that can be removed or seems superfluous?
- Does it feel too long?
- If it’s a verbal presentation
- Are your transitions from slide to slide seamless?
- Do you use acronyms and not explain what they stand for?
- Is the information organized in an easy-to-follow format?
- If it’s a written report
- Are there too many conjunctions?
- Did they have to read any sentences twice?
Make sure to time yourself, too.
Shorter is better, and a time/word limit, even a self-imposed one, can help you rule out items that aren’t directly relevant and remove unnecessary wordiness.
Presenting your work to people who matter
If these suggestions seem like extra work, it’s because they are.
Presenting to executives means presenting to the most influential people at a company and requires different preparation.
These people can move your ideas forward or stop them in their tracks.
As nerve-wracking as it can be to deliver results to senior leadership, it can also open doors and opportunities if you nail it. Remember: stay succinct and stay out of the weeds.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.