Giving a Presentation to the C-Suite or the Board – Anticipate Tough Questions

Executive presentations can strike fear into the hearts of the most confident business presenters. The stakes are high and landmines aplenty. When I work with business leaders, I find they don’t spend adequate time preparing for questions. Here’s one strategy that works:

When you are preparing your presentation write down every question you can think of that might be asked. Look at your content through the executive’s eyes:

  • What might not be clear?
  • What might he or she disagree with?
  • What are the hot buttons?
  • How will this solve his/her problems?
  • What is the potential ROI? Potential risk?

Play devil’s advocate. What might be the arguments on the other side of the issue? Prepare your responses. Then, when faced with challenging questions or opposing points of view, you’ll be ready.

Some techniques include:

  • Redirect. It may be perfectly appropriate to ask if someone in the audience would like to comment or has had experience with what’s been asked.
  • Rephrase or confirm. Ensure that you have understood the question correctly and are providing the right answer.
  • Straight up. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” You’ll get more respect for this admission than trying to bluff your way through. Always follow up with the answer or to clarify details after the presentation.



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