Rick Gilbert – Speaking to the Big Dogs: A Boardroom Survival Kit

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Rick Gilbert - Speaking to the Big Dogs A Boardroom Survival Kit1Rick Gilbert – Speaking to the Big Dogs: A Boardroom Survival Kit

A Boardroom Survival Kit

If you want to succeed in making presentations to executive staff, you need to remember one thing: everything is different in the boardroom. These folks are not about to sit through a non-stop, 20-page PowerPoint deck, nor will they look kindly on your saving your conclusions until the end. This is a dynamic, demanding group who wants the bottom line first, a lot of discussion—and a presenter who has done their homework.

In Speaking to the Big Dogs DVD, you are given a rare opportunity to hear, directly from C-level executives, what they want from people who present at their staff meetings. The 17 executives interviewed on this DVD will share with you invaluable insights and tips that will help you prepare for and make your next presentation in the boardroom. See what people are saying about Speaking to the Big Dogs DVD.

This program is divided into five segments: The Preparation, The Presentation, The People, The Process, and The Human Connection. The executives talk about what kind of homework they expect you to do prior to the presentation, how important it is for you to get to the point and manage your time with them, why it’s important to know your audience, what to do if problems arise—and much more.


– Learn why communicating “up” is totally different than any other type of communication

– Understand how to deal with power: the reality of boardroom politics

– Learn what Big Dogs want to hear

– Understand what makes Big Dogs bristle

– Learn when and how to use visual aids

– Learn how to handle nervousness

– Understand how to prepare for being on the Big Dogs’ agenda

– Handling problem areas: time gets cut; Big Dogs get bored; decision maker leaves; dealing with big egos, and much more.

Eight Tips for Successful Big Dog Dialogue

According to the tips given by the “C-Level” Executives and other senior management, speakers at the highest level would do well to remember these eight tips:

1. It is a discussion, not a presentation.
Be prepared for a dialogue, not a monologue with the Big Dogs.

2. First line, bottom line.
The first thing you say (your first line) should be what you want from the meeting. You may not get a chance to say your second line.

3. Follow the 10 / 30 rule
If you have a 30-minute presentation, prepare about 10 minutes of material. Most of your time with the Big Dogs will be in discussion, not presentation.

4. Substitute analytical information for stories
The higher up you go in the organization, the less you should use stories. Use data instead, and make sure the numbers “tie.”

5. Be prepared to give up the middle
The Big Dogs will take the discussion wherever they want it to go. Your job is to artfully “ride the bull,” and be ready to dump most of your prepared material if necessary. Then bring it to a successful conclusion at the end.

6. Do your homework
Speaking to senior management is one of the most important, stressful, and potentially rewarding opportunities you will ever have in business. Prepare months in advance. Learn about the politics of the group, send them advanced material on your talk, check with other functional areas that may be effected by what you are proposing. Remember it is more about strategy than about presentation skills.

7. Reduce the number of PowerPoint slides
Depending too much on visual aids, or worse, reading them, can be career limiting in front of the Big Dogs. Remember the 10 / 30 rule. If you prepare for just 10 minutes of content, and figure three minutes / slide, you will need only three slides for a 30 minute presentation. Do have back up slides, though, in case they want to drill down.

8. Presenting bad news
Get the bad news out right away. Explain why it happened followed by what you are planning to do to fix it, and be prepared to offer several solutions. Let them choose.

But do not get too stressed out. According to Dan Warmenhoven, CEO of Network Appliance:

“Remember, we’re on your side. We’re on the same team. We want you to succeed, otherwise, we would not invite you to be here.”

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