Talking to members of the C-suite and senior management can be stressful, but it can make all the difference in your career, according to Mark Bashrum, vice president of corporate marketing and strategic intelligence at ESI International.
Communicating clearly, concisely, directly, and persuasively with decision makers who can green light your ideas takes preparation and specialized knowledge, Bashrum says.
He says these five strategies will help ensure that each conversation is professional and effective:
1. Know your audience. Thoughtful and successful communicators know the chain of command above them and understand the communication style of every senior leader and executive.
2. Understand what’s important to them. Executives care about execution and anything that promotes or inhibits the organization's ability to get things done. Focus on business outcomes and never point out a challenge without offering a solution.
3. Be ready for the hallway conversation. Prepare for chance run-ins with executives—and don’t assume impromptu conversations are casual when business is the topic. Provide solutions and display your knowledge and aptitude as a problem solver.
4. Pick your moments. Make sure your communication is situation-appropriate. Deliver ideas in context and in an appropriate way. The company picnic may not be the best place to discuss the specifics of a product line, but may be OK for concept talk.
5. Be yourself. Most executives can spot posturing and pretending a mile away. Sincerity is critical for establishing trust and meaningful communications. Make sure executives know they can count on you and your information.
Learning to communicate ideas effectively, Bashrum says, is a required skill for those wishing to advance.