In order to achieve success at every career level, we must understand how to communicate effectively, especially with the C-suite. Speaking with skill reduces confusion, encourages transparency and improves the productivity and collaboration of the entire organization. What’s more, communicating effectively exudes poise and confidence.
Communicating with ease, like learning any other professional skill, takes time and practice. The ability to do so with members of the executive team will not only leave a lasting positive impression it will exude respect and a high level of professionalism. Your executive leader will appreciate the information you shared and will, undoubtedly, look forward to future conversations.
So how does one communicate with C-suite professionals without feeling uncomfortable, nervous or tongue-tied? Follow these strategies for communicating “upward” with confidence and skill.
Time is money and most executives have their schedules planned to the minute. Be aware of the valuable time you’ve been afforded. Use it wisely and respectfully by being prepared. When meeting with a member of the C-suite, do your homework and practice what you want to communicate. You’ll feel more confident and at ease.
Drop the Jargon
Speak clearly and concisely and leave the “optimize,” “monetize,” “paradigm” and other jargon behind. Jargon is not only confusing, it’s uncreative and can make you sound phony, Rather use words that communicate to the point. You’ll come across more credible and as an effective communicator.
Be the Expert
You were hired because of the expertise and knowledge you bring to the organization. Believe what you’re saying and have confidence in your message. If you’re speaking to a leader about a problem, leave him/her with actionable steps, so they know you have a plan or solution with the ability to execute it. You’re an expert, and thoughtful, assertive communication will ensure leadership will appreciate your efforts.
Know Your Leadership
Understand your executives’ personalities. Some are friendly and may enjoy sharing personal stories and small talk, and others may want to stick to the agenda and business at hand. Knowing the temperament of your leaders will help you present your message effectively and help build rapport.
Fine-tune Your Listening Skills
One of the ways to be a master communicator is learning to listen – really listen. Give your executive your undivided attention. Maintain good eye contact and posture, respond appropriately and, above all, don’t interrupt. Also be aware of the nonverbal cues your leader is communicating, such as smiling, nodding or checking his/her watch or phone. Those messages speak volumes and are critical elements to becoming a mindful listener and communicator.
There’s nothing more refreshing than to be your authentic self. Whether you’re an entry-level employee or the CEO, people identify better with those who are real. When you have the opportunity to converse with a member of the C-suite, be yourself. You’re special with unique gifts and talents. By showcasing the real you, you’ll come across as trusting and kind, traits we all want in our communication toolbox.