Sally Williamson is presenting “Establishing Credibility in a C-Suite Conversation,” at the PRSA 2013 International Conference on Tuesday, Oct. 29, from 8–9:15 a.m.
Over 300 executives and managers participated in our recent survey and interviews related to executive-level conversations, and the results were both confirming and compelling. For years, we’ve shared anecdotes with managers about what executives are looking for from high-level meetings, and the interviews gave the statistical data to prove our stories. But even we were surprised to see how consistent top executives were in their responses. They agreed on impressions, they agreed on the framework of meetings and they agreed on how they like to participate. So with such continuity in what executives expect to hear, why do managers feel that they miss the mark almost 40 percent of the time?
Because while managers have the best of intentions, they are making the wrong choices about how they approach meetings with executives.
Here’s an example. Assume a manager is scheduled to meet with an executive for 30 minutes to give a recommendation on a new initiative. Most managers say they would plan to spend 20 minutes presenting their ideas and then save 5–10 minutes for questions on the topic. The approach is fairly buttoned-up, and they come with visuals and documentation to support their position. Most executives say the meeting should be interactive. In fact, they believe the main reason for meeting with them on a topic is to get their perspective and to see how they can connect the dots to broader company initiatives. Executives believe that within five minutes they should be participating. They want an interactive conversation rather than a report. And they admit that they are often disruptive in trying to change the course and approach of the conversation.
So the best of intentions are driving some poor approaches to high-level meetings.
During my session, “Establishing Credibility in a C-Suite Conversation,” we are going to discuss in more detail the executive perspective, expectations in an executive conversation, creating a compelling message and developing a conversation framework. We have focused on this executive-level conversation for a number of years, and while the audience is tough, we think they are predictable. You can develop the skills to have an effective executive conversation.