The Do’s and Don’t of Talking to Top Executives
July 13, 2011 4 Comments
There are several challenges to getting the attention of top executives. When you do, it is important to remember that this is your opportunity to impress and to present your case. And a raw data dump usually will not work; nor will a long, number-filled report without an executive summary. You need to know how to present arguments to CEOs and other C-suite people so as to maximize your chances of being heard.
In order to help you make the most of your talk with your top executives, consider these dos and don’ts:
- Frame your message in terms of how it will reduce risk, improve the bottom line or affect the organization’s future.
- Remember the CEO’s main interest is optimizing the business’s resources, and your proposal should show him/her how you can help meet that goal.
- Speak the language of the CEO by using appropriate terms like ROI, operating profit, operating expenses, cash flow, and the like. You know the great buzz words.
- Get stuck in the present. The CEO is about big picture thinking and where the business will be in three months, six months, and five years. If you come in talking about the fire you are putting out today, you will risk appearing trivial.
- Overload your message with detail. Yes, you have occasion where you must think about step-by-step processes. But do not bring that level of detail to the C-suite table. A top executive’s attitude: You are paid to take care of the nitty-gritty.
- Beat around the bush. Talking to the CEO is like nothing you can imagine. This executive is juggling multiple priorities and must see immediate value in what you’re bringing to him/her. Otherwise, they will tune you out in the blink of an eye.
Remember it is your time to shine. Do not blow it! Do you agree or agree? Any advice you would like to share?