Pre-Wiring Presentations to Key Audience for Buy-In

Pre-Wiring Presentations to Key Audience for Buy-In

In “The McKinsey Way,” author Ethan M. Rasiel presents numerous insights to problem solving, analytical reasoning and effective communication practiced at McKinsey and Company, one of the world’s foremost management-consulting firms.

Pre-Wiring a Presentation

Pre-wiring a presentation involves discussing your findings and recommendations with key decision-makers independently ahead of a group presentation. By getting various participants’ buy-in to the contents of your presentation, you ensure their support to your conclusions and avoid surprise reactions and disagreements.

There should be no surprises on the day of the presentation. All the major players should be taken through the solution in private. This way, necessary negotiation, compromise, and new facts that are integral to the acceptance of the proposal will be integrated by the time of the presentation. Pre-wiring removes much of the good to what risk from the presentation and allows the team to shine.

Following the practice of pre-wiring at McKinsey, organizations such as Wipro Technologies have started promoting pre-wiring. See article from Fast Company magazine.

Possible Reactions to a Pre-wired Presentation

  • Pre-Wiring Presentations: Preventing Surprise Reactions If your research is thorough and conclusions are logical, each decision-maker you meet ahead of a presentation may accept the contents of your presentation and agree to support your presentation.
  • During the course of your conversations, you may uncover new details that may compel you to adjust your conclusions. Quite possibly, you may have to negotiate and make compromises in your conclusions.
  • If a key decision-maker raises objections to your conclusions, you may rethink through your entire analysis and develop an alternate solution to the problem at hand.

Benefits of Pre-wiring a Presentation

  • Pre-Wiring: Preventing Blindsiding in Presentations Prevents Blindsiding: Clearly, the biggest advantage of discussing a presentation with key decision-makers ahead of a group presentation is that it keeps you “from getting blindsided by major objections to your solution.” By avoiding surprises, you ensure each participant’s backing to your conclusions.
  • Helps Get Buy-In: Presentations are usually time-constrained. There may not be sufficient time to describe finer aspects of your research, your deductions and recommended actions. Meeting with individual participants can help you supply all the relevant details to each participant, help him/her appreciate how your recommendations may affect him/her and get a buy-in.
  • Develops Perspective: Presenting your findings to individuals allows you to gather additional inputs that help you develop a broader perspective. You may uncover new details that may compel you to adjust your conclusions.
  • Helps prepare for the final presentation and tailor your message to suit the audience.

Concluding Thoughts

Pre-wiring a presentation improves the likelihood that your audience will identify with your approach and consent to your recommendations.

Presentation Tips #3: Compressing Photos in PowerPoint

Suppose you are preparing a PowerPoint presentation with pictures from prototype testing of a design or pictures from your vacation. When you insert pictures into the PowerPoint file, you may realize that the file’s size will balloon with addition of each picture. You may end-up with a large PowerPoint file that may perhaps be difficult to distribute or email.

The reason for larger PowerPoint files is twofold. Firstly, Microsoft PowerPoint may not store picture data in an optimum format. Secondly, while today’s digital cameras can capture pictures at high resolutions (between three to five megapixels per picture,) on-screen display requires pictures of just 96 DPI (dots per inch) resolutions. In addition, typical office-document printing requires pictures of no more than 200 to 300 DPI resolutions.

The more-recent versions of Microsoft PowerPoint facilitate compressing pictures easily to create smaller files.

Compressing Photos in PowerPoint

If you desire to compress a single picture or a group of pictures, highlight the pictures. The Picture toolbar will appear, as illustrated in Figure 1. Now, choose “Compress Pictures” from the Picture toolbar. In the resulting dialogue box, make appropriate selections to execute the command.

Compressing Photos in PowerPoint

If you desire to compress all the pictures in your PowerPoint file, an easier approach involves the “Save As” dialogue. From the menu bar, choose “File” – “Save As … .” In the resulting dialogue box, open the “Tools” dropdown and choose the “Compress Pictures” command, as illustrated in Figure 2.

Two Essential PowerPoint Slideshow Tips

‘B’ for Blank Screen, ‘W’ for White Screen

Powerpoint slideshow: Presenter should be the focusDuring a presentation, when you are running a slideshow in PowerPoint, you may want to divert the attention of your audience away from the contents of your PowerPoint slide. When you are answering a question on a topic unrelated to a current slide, you may not want the audience to focus on the illustrations or graphs on your slide. Instead, you may want to be the focus of their attention.

  • If you press the ‘B’ key or the ‘.’ key during your PowerPoint slideshow, the screen will go blank. This will enable you to redirect your audience’s attention to yourself and your talk. When you are ready to continue, press the ‘B’ key or the ‘.’ key to resume the slideshow.
  • Alternately, press the ‘W’ key or the ‘,’ key to display a white screen. Press the ‘W’ key or the ‘,’ key a second time to resume the slideshow.

In general, it is always a good idea to have a blank screen to help get your audience to focus on you when beginning or concluding your presentation, introducing yourself or answering questions. The later versions of Microsoft PowerPoint end with a blank “End of slideshow, click to exit” screen by default.

[Number] + Enter to Transit to a Particular Slide

Powerpoint slideshow: Presenter should be the focusAs with all communication processes, your PowerPoint slides and verbal presentation should consist of a logical flow of ideas and supporting material. Unfortunately, presenters often overlook this necessity.

Presenters habitually transit to a prior slide to show a graph or some data— “As I said in slide four…let me go to slide number four…here it is… .” Alternately, they sometimes transit to a further slide or to a slide in the appendix— “Edward, I am glad you brought that up…in fact, I included a chart in the last slide…let me show it to you now… .”

Moving to a prior slide or a further slide (by using the ‘Page Up’ or ‘Page Down’ keys) can distract the audience. If you must transit to a particular slide, hit the slide number and press ‘Enter.’ Note down the current slide number to use when you want to resume the slideshow. Refer to your handouts or a printout of your slideshow for slide numbers.


  • In the PowerPoint slideshow mode, hit the ‘F1’ key to access a list of keyboard shortcuts you can use during slideshows.
  • My article from November, ‘You, not Your Slides, are Your Presentation,’ offers tips on engaging your audience during public speaking.

You are Your Presentation, Your Slides Aren’t

You, not Your Slides, are Your PresentationLast week, I attended a training seminar where the speaker stood by the side of a projection screen and behind a table where he had his laptop. He hardly moved from his position during the hour-long seminar. He was short and was barely visible from the back of the thirty-people room, as shown in the illustration. Despite his interesting content and compelling arguments, he was physically disconnected from his audience.

One of the common mistakes speakers make is that they regard their slides as the core of their presentation—they give their slides the center stage during their presentations. Sometimes they stand behind a podium or by the side of a projection screen and command very little attention from the audience.

You, not Your Slides, are Your PresentationHere are a few tips to help you engage your audience.

  • Get a handheld or a clip-on microphone and a remote control to advance your PowerPoint or Keynote slides. Walk around the room and establish a positive rapport with your audience.
  • Maintain a relaxed body language and tone, smile and engage the audience in discussions. A relaxed stance and engaging conversations quickly establish your authority over the subject matter and your credibility with the audience.
  • Maintain eye contact with all the members of your audience. Observe their body language for non-verbal feedback to your presentation content.
  • Have a friend or family member attend your presentation and request that he or she observe your non-verbal communication, viz., your appearance, enthusiasm, tone and volume, gestures, eye contact, audience engagement, pauses, and pace of delivery.

As you prepare for your next public speaking assignment or presentation, remember that your slides or handouts just augment your presentation and support your line of reasoning. You are the presentation; you should be the focus.