Let’s say you’re presenting a new product concept to the executive team, made up of five very different executives with very different needs.

  • Bert the CEO is hierarchical, a micromanager, dominant and fear-driven, and needs to be liked;
  • Carol, the President of the Consumer Division, is visionary, creative, disruptive and scattered. She wants the opportunity to stand on her own feet;
  • Trent, the President of the Enterprise division is entrepreneurial, a design thinker, systematic.  After a recent near-death experience, he made big life altering decisions.
  • Martin, the CMO is the CEO’s favorite who is empirically-minded, arrogant and tends to sabotage projects;
  • and Marco, the CTO, is political and risk-averse, analytical, introverted and self-doubting.

Draw on this understanding of the team members as you prepare your talk for them. Here’s where your segmentation work will come in handy. You know you won’t get their buy-in unless Trent, the president of the Enterprise Division, gets excited about the idea, because they always defer to his instincts on new initiatives. Appeal first to Trent’s entrepreneurial nature by describing how exciting the new market is—while keeping in mind what the other executives will care about.

In addition to fanning the flames of Trent’s entrepreneurial nature, for example, have data in your pocket to respond to Marco, the analytical and risk-averse CTO, when he inevitably balks. And try to work with, not against, Martin’s arrogance: Ask for his counsel on a key marketing point or two before the group meets, and he’ll be less likely to lash out during the presentation and he won’t sit there quietly plotting a coup, like he did the last time.

What if some audience members are already familiar with your idea and others need to be brought up to speed? This is most likely to happen when you’re presenting within your organization. Consider giving the newbies a crash course before you conduct the larger presentation. Or you may decide just to do two separate presentations.

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