Communicating with senior executives can be a really daunting or challenging work. They are often pressed with time and look for crisp, to the point and meaningful communication which is goal-driven. We explore seven important strategies, which one can follow while communicating with senior executives
1.Define the purpose by setting clear objectivesDecide what needs to be communicated, being clear about the purpose of the communication is very critical, which will determine the ultimate success. Spend your maximum time here
2. Adjust Your Communication Style for an Executive AudienceThe fear of rejection, facing criticism, or non-acceptance of ideas can really be daunting and affect your pitch or presentation. We recommend some tips for communicating confidently with senior executives and maintaining your credibility.
Be concise and stick to what matters: Just share the crucial details concisely and not the trivial intricacies, but simultaneously be prepared to give more information if asked. If your message isn't concise, there's a good chance it'll never even be considered.
Make your message relevant to the senior executive's interests: This involves doing the homework thoroughly before indulging in communication with a senior executive. By showing that you understand how they think, you'll be seen as credible, and as offering something valuable.
Align your message as per the Decision-Making style of the Senior Executives: For example, do they need lots of data, factual representations, and proven results before making a decision? Or do they act in response to instinct, and prefer discussion over a quick decision? There are also some who require time to reflect before making a decision, and others who subject all proposals to a logical and systematic analysis.
Craft your message to appeal to the executive’s personality: For example, dominant or demanding executives may prefer brief or direct messages over general or broad statements. On the other hand, friendly executives may look for some social interaction while communicating.
3. Build Credibility with Senior ExecutivesFollow these tips to build your credibility for engaging in successful communication endeavors with the senior executives:
Be knowledgeable, be able to cite trusted sources or endorsements for strengthening your case. Apart from this, knowledge of the crucial terminologies and demonstrable skills for proving the idea is crucial for being able to communicate efficiently.
Demonstrate your Trustworthiness: You can earn trust by keeping promises and respecting confidence, respecting others' opposition or concerns, being up-front, and putting other people's interests ahead of one’s own.
Be Open-Minded and Practise Active Listening skills: It means understanding, interpreting, and evaluating what's being said.
4. Conducting a MeetingAfter these preliminary steps, you need to plan and sequence the content of the meeting. Here are some pointers which you must keep in mind to before attending the meeting:
- Make Clear and Compelling Initial Introductions
- Discuss the issues and implications. Demonstrate an understanding of the issues that most interest the executive.
- Follow-up meeting: Even if the senior executive suggests you continue with a lower-level executive or manager, you should still suggest reconnecting with the senior executive to provide an update or review of developments.
5. Select the communication platform
The selection of communication platform not only influences how the message is perceived but equally affects the feedback one gets. You cannot read body language over the phone, or see the instant effect of a message over an e-mail. Hence, it is very crucial to select the right platform for communication, once it is ascertained what needs to be achieved through communication.
Communication methods can be categorized as either face-to-face or electronic. Formal face-to-face platforms include meetings, briefing sessions, and presentations.
Informal ones are conferences, workshops, retreats, hallway chats, and elevator pitches. Then there are electronic communication platforms. These include phone, e-mail, video conference, text or instant message, voicemail, and webinars. Different channels of communication have their relative advantages and serve different purposes.
6. Make elevator pitchesStick to the basics and organize some essential facts that get to the heart of the matter right away. Describe how the change will affect the organization as a whole – don't personalize it. Avoid technical jargon. Make sure to use buzz terms – these put your objective in focus. Prepare these terms to suit the listener. Narrow your approach and condense your message. Present all options concisely, giving pros and cons such as company limitations, risks, financial gains or losses, resources necessary, and outlooks. An effective presentation should also include solutions or ideas for improvement.
And the Golden rule, when presenting, follow the 10/20/30 rule. Presentation should not have more than 10 slides, take no more than 20 minutes, and use slides with a 30-point font.
7. Reporting and Proposals
Reporting to senior executives can be a one-time event – for example, to provide information about an upcoming initiative. Or it can be an ongoing process, such as scheduled status reports on a project. To ensure your report is effective, make sure there's actually something significant to report.
While drafting proposals, the thumb rule is to keep it simple. When communicating with senior executives, including no more than three points. And show them you're an expert by backing up your ideas with concrete facts and examples. Another tip for proposals is to appeal to senior executives' emotions. Relate your own personal experiences so that your audience is engaged. Also try to appeal to them through humor or find common areas you agree on.