How to present a SWOT analysis

A SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats - analysis is a critical input to any planning process. Presenting the SWOT analysis to those involved in the planning process sets the stage for the planning activities to follow and ensures that the focus is on those items that are most critical to the business, division or department doing the planning. Because the SWOT is also often presented to those not involved in the planning process, it is important to provide background information to make sure everyone understands what the SWOT is, and how it will be used.

When presenting the SWOT it is important to start with an explanation of the purpose of conducting the SWOT analysis which is to look at the various internal and external factors that impact the organisation, department or business. Explain to the group what SWOT stands for - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; that strengths and weaknesses are internal and opportunities and threats are external; and that the planning group will use the SWOT to determine ways to leverage or enhance strengths and opportunities while minimising or eliminating weaknesses and threats.

Narrow it down. While the planning group may have come up with literally dozens of items under each of the SWOT categories, this original list should have been narrowed down and prioritised to represent the top (generally no more than 5-7) items under each category. In presenting the SWOT analysis explain how this prioritisation process took place, who was involved and how the final items were created.

Start with strengths and opportunities. Go over the top strengths and opportunities that the group determined and discuss how these strengths and opportunities can be used to the company's advantage. Expect input and discussion from the group and be prepared for questions. This is not the time to debate or challenge the list, but it does represent an opportunity for important discussion.

Move on to weaknesses and threats. While the discussion of strengths and opportunities was probably a very positive discussion, the discussion of weaknesses and threats can be more stressful with more likelihood that the items presented will be challenged. Be prepared for this but, again, remember that the presentation of the SWOT analysis is not the time for debate. Reiterate the process used to come up with the prioritised list, as necessary, but be matter-of-fact in your presentation.

Wrap up the presentation with a discussion of how the results of the SWOT analysis will be used to develop objectives, strategies and tactics designed to leverage strengths and opportunities and minimise weaknesses and threats. Entertain any additional questions.

Tip

Having support from others during your presentation, from as high up in the organisation as possible, can help defuse any debate or discussion about the validity of the SWOT items presented.

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About the Author

Leigh Richards has been a writer since 1980. Her work has been published in "Entrepreneur," "Complete Woman" and "Toastmaster," among many other trade and professional publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Wisconsin and a Master of Arts in organizational management from the University of Phoenix.

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