I'm off on a rare vacation this week and while I'm away, the team at my e-mail marketing company VerticalResponse, had a visit from an executive at our new company Deluxe. Being the kind of team they are, they wanted to hit it out of the park and make sure they impressed him.

But they were admittedly nervous and only had a day to prepare. I'm happy to report the presentation went well, and I want to share some tips they used to prep like pros that we can all benefit from.

Get Expectations Up Front

If you've got a big presentation coming up, you don't ever want to walk in blind.

Try to get as much information, up front as you can about what your visitor, or audience wants and needs to know. This way you aren't guessing, or making assumptions and you can tailor your content and examples specifically for them.

But, remember, anything may come up, especially when you're dealing with anyone with a "V" or "C" in their title, so be prepared to answer and address things outside of your prepared presentation. Sometimes things can go off on tangents. This is okay in so far as you properly answer the question and inform your audience, but you may have to manage your presentation to get it back on track if you feel like it's going off the rails.

This is a judgement call where you can decide if it's best to address it in the moment, or if it might be better to visit it later and continue with your presentation. I've found it is helpful to ask the person if they want to discuss it now, or come back to it after we've gone through the preso. Often times, you'll have the information they want further along in your deck.

Know Your Audience

One of the key factors in preparing my team for the presentation was that Dave, our Chief Operating Officer, has spent a good deal of time with this exec.

Because of this, Dave knows the way he thinks, the kind of questions he asks and any potential curve balls he may throw. He advised the team to provide a lot of data, but to also make sure there was context around what that data meant. For example, if they were showing engagement metrics around our content marketing, to make sure they provided detail like, "these numbers are 30 percent higher than what we were seeing a year ago, and we hope to increase them another 10 percent by using the tactics I'm about to cover." Any time you provide stats, or numbers, make sure you also provide context.

Express Appreciation

The day after the big presentation, my SVP of Product and Marketing (another David), as well as our COO sent the entire team an e-mail expressing their appreciation for the time and energy the team put into the preparation and the actual presentation.

This is a really nice thing to do in acknowledging the team. Often times these presentations come out of nowhere, with little time to prep and sometimes it means your team may have to shift priorities, work late into the night or do some juggling. Showing some gratitude is priceless.

How do you prep your teams for big presentations? Add your tips in the comments.

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