How to Master Your Next People Strategy Presentation: A Guide for HR Leaders
"What's our people strategy for the first half of this year?" your CEO asks.
"I can't tell you in a sentence," you reply, "but I'd be happy to show you one afternoon next week. Why not bring along the executive team?"
While it'd be nice to boil everything down to a few words, your People strategy can have multiple complex elements.
You'll probably want to break down the different aspects of HR, recruitment, and corporate culture.
You'll have big-picture ideas alongside concrete plans. But you'll need their executive buy-in if you want your projects to bear fruit.
What's the best way to wield your strategic influence? A killer presentation.
A people strategy presentation is one of your most effective tools for communicating your vision and plans.
Below, we'll share how they work and how you can make yours absolutely first-class.
🕵️♀️ What is a people strategy presentation?
A people strategy presentation is a visual aid used to communicate your organization's goals and plans for your people.
It's an invaluable tool for convincing everyone that your plans are sound and educating them on the core tenets of how it'll work.
Slide decks have a reputation for being a little dry.
But attendees should come out of your session feeling inspired and eager to contribute.
They should have clarity about what happens next and why.
And you should be excited too!
Instead of handing out documents and emails that people might never read, you'll get 20 minutes or so of focused attention.
People ops can be complicated, and there can be a lot of information to get across to all your stakeholders, so it's essential to be concise.
For maximum impact, your people strategy presentation should seek to address a few main areas:
- The HR challenges and opportunities facing the organization: What's happening within your workforce? Are there any external market or economic forces impacting it?
- Your primary strategic plans: In a few concise points, what's your plan for people operations?
- How the strategy aligns with broader business goals: HR doesn't exist in a vacuum – it underpins the whole organization. Nobody should be left asking, "What does this have to do with me?"
- Who's going to drive the strategic execution: Which people and departments are going to push things forward, and how will they share responsibility?
- How you will measure success: Outline your proposed objectives and metrics to determine whether things have worked (with specific timelines included).
- What are the potential risks: What challenges do you expect to see during implementation? What's your contingency plan if something unexpected comes up along the way?
- How the plan will evolve: Nothing stands still in companies, markets, and societies. Economic or technological disruption is likely, and your company will (hopefully) grow – how will the plan evolve to match these conditions?
- Examples of your ideas working elsewhere: You could include case studies of successful strategies implemented in other organizations.
- Your plans for rolling out the plan: Share how you will communicate the strategy to employees and other stakeholders. By doing so, you will clarify expectations and responsibilities.
🏆 7 Best practices for a compelling presentation
1. Keep the presentation focused
Start with the obvious: setting a clear agenda before starting.
Define your key points and cover them within the time available.
Tip #1: Don't be tempted to go off tangents or spend too much time introducing yourself.
Tip #2: Leaving a visible timer running as you go is also a good idea.
Tip #3: Break the presentation into 10-minute blocks to keep yourself on pace.
Tip #4: To keep things on point, you must also make sure your content is relevant to the audience you'll be delivering to.
While a people strategy will affect pretty much everyone in your company, you might still have to tailor some slides to avoid misunderstandings.
Max Benz, Founder and CEO at BankingGeek, suggests that different roles will come with different perspectives you need to keep in mind:
"When presenting a people strategy it's important to have a clear plan of action that is tailored to the needs of the audience. Make sure that you understand who will be attending the presentation - are they decision makers or advisors? Are they technical or non-technical? - as this will help shape the content and style of delivery."
2. Make your presentation data-driven
When you make arguments for organizational change, it's super helpful to have justification behind your plans. Data is the best way to do this, especially if it's easily understandable.
Karolina Kijowska, Head of People at PhotoAiD, suggests your arguments should be supported not just visually but logically:
"Your slides should be pretty simple and easy to read, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't include any data. On the contrary, I'd recommend including visual representations of the benefits of different parts of your strategy so it doesn't seem like it's just empty words.
You should also ensure that your strategy is presented in a way that presents the causes and effects of each idea because this is the most efficient way to explain why it's crucial for an effective strategy."
Explaining what the people function of your organization will be doing is a no-brainer. But if you want the message to sink in – explain why and how it will have an impact.
Tip: Backing up your assertions with data will give them much more impact.
3. Use visual elements wisely
What data will you use to back up your points?
Communicating effectively is the way to go if you want specific points to sink in.
The best way to do that is by making your presentation visual.
You can do this via:
But mind the overall design, too.
Tip: A default template with a plain white background will send everyone to sleep. Definitely, not ideal.
Even if you're not a designer, there are many ways to liven things up a little.
We're far past the age of manually assembling PowerPoint decks with boring default fonts.
Tip: You could use Tome, an AI-assisted narrative creator for your presentations.
✊ Or, if you want a ready-to-use template, we have your back.
4. Practice your delivery
To ensure a good flow to the presentation, you have to practice it at least once.
Emma Williams, Chief Research Officer at HIGH5, suggests practicing your delivery will complement your speaking ability, which is equally important:
"Practice your presentation a few times before the big day to become comfortable with the material. Be confident, passionate and articulate when it comes to speaking. Speak in a clear voice, and make sure to maintain eye contact with your audience, using pauses for emphasis."
Even if you have experience speaking in front of a high-level audience, it's always worth reminding yourself of the basics.
5. Engage your audience
Your ideas do need to be able to stand on their own.
The strategic merit of your presentation is the most important thing. People shouldn't have much problem paying attention if it's up to scratch.
That said, maintaining interest with a few practicalities is important too.
Lisa Dietrich, Partner at girokonto.io, suggests the structure of your delivery is critical to keeping listeners interested:
"To effectively share my people strategy in a room full of people, I always make sure that my presentation is well structured and organized by focusing on one main idea per slide or section of the presentation. This helps keep my audience engaged by breaking down complex concepts into manageable information chunks, highlighting the most important points.
Additionally, I also make sure to incorporate elements such as interactive activities or polls into my presentations whenever possible to encourage participation from the attendees."
Tip #1: If you're presenting to more than a few people, including a Q&A session at the end and a more open-ended discussion is wise.
Tip #2: Including a discussion element will keep folks engaged and provide valuable feedback that can inform your business decisions and the format of future presentations.
6. Use clear and concise language
Fancy words might make you feel in charge, but they don't often help when communicating your message.
A simple check through your slide deck will cover this. Check for any industry jargon that your executives might not be familiar with. You can always keep it in with some brackets (like this) or an asterisk with an explanatory note. Or you could change it to a more straightforward explanation.
Tip: Expand any acronyms the first time you mention them (unless they're obvious to everyone, like HR).
An anecdote from Netflix's cofounder Reed Hastings' book No Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention highlights the need to speak in clear language.
Remembering his interview with Patty McCord (who would become a pillar of Netflix's modern people practices), Reed was utterly confused by her usage of terms like "emotional intelligence quotient": "My head started to spin. I was young and unpolished and after she stopped, I said: 'Is that how all HR people speak? I couldn't understand a word. If we are going to work together you are going to have to stop talking like that.'"
7. Anticipate possible questions
You'll be able to foresee some questions – usually around the specifics of executing the strategy.
Some people might be unsure about their changing responsibilities or how a new direction might affect their current role.
Be prepared with answers, and warn the colleagues that might have to contribute a response if you have to hand over to them for specific topics.
There's always the chance of a surprising data request you mind not have on top of your head. Just remember to follow up after the meeting.
📝 Example people strategy presentation you can use
If you plan on giving your executive presentation on people development strategy, you might not want to make it from scratch. Luckily, we've got you covered.
Here are the elements we think you should address.
Part 1 - Current status
1. Company business strategy
- Overview of the company and its mission
- Importance of people in achieving business goals
2. The state of HR & People operations
- Who's responsible for driving the people strategy
- Hierarchy or diagram of the HR department
3. Current workforce: Where are we now?
- Size and composition of the current workforce (e.g., number of employees, breakdown by department)
- Key trends, challenges, and opportunities facing the organization (e.g., high employee turnover in specific departments, difficulty attracting top talent in certain areas)
Part 2 - Vision
1. Talent needs: Where would we like to be?
Describe the desired future state of your organization and the key goals and objectives of your people strategy. Explain how the people strategy aligns with the overall business goals.
- Skills and capabilities needed for future growth (e.g., data analysis, machine learning, customer service)
- Gaps in the current workforce (e.g., lack of employees with specific technical skills, low diversity in certain departments)
2. Diversity and inclusion
If you're committed to diversity and inclusion, how is it approached? (e.g., how the company deals with this topic and how it reflects in hiring decisions)
- Goals and initiatives in this area (e.g., creating employee resource groups, hosting diversity and inclusion training sessions)
3. Focus areas
What are the main pillars of your people strategy? Include 3 or 4 focus areas that explain it in simple terms.
Part 3 – Initiatives
1. Attraction and recruitment
- Strategies for attracting top talent (e.g., job postings on relevant websites, networking events, employee referral program)
- Initiatives to improve employer brand (e.g., updating company website and social media profiles to highlight company culture and values, creating employee testimonial videos)
2. Retention and engagement
- Strategies for keeping employees motivated and engaged (e.g., regular check-ins with managers, career development opportunities, employee recognition program)
- Initiatives to reduce turnover (e.g., offering competitive salaries and benefits, conducting exit interviews to identify areas for improvement)
- 3. Development and training
- Investment in employee development and training (e.g., budget for training programs and workshops, in-house training sessions)
- Programs and initiatives in place (e.g., mentorship program, leadership development program)
Part 4 - Evaluation
- 1. Measurement and evaluation (Outline how you will measure the strategy's success and how you will track and report on progress.)
Q&A: Allow time for questions from your audience.
You can also download a ready-to-use people presentation template below.
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