Updated: Nov 24
Knowing how to effectively communicate with senior leadership is important because they shoulder a lot of responsibilities. They take key decisions every day. Each action they take has a lot of thought behind it as it impacts the business. Therefore, it's understandable that their position warrants them to behave in a certain way and dictates everything, including the way they communicate.
Formally Empathetic is the way to go
No matter how easy-going they are known to be, the best and the most professional route for you is to block time and share an agenda for the discussion. If you are simply reaching out, personal messages may not be seen in a good light and can come off as unprofessional or even as an audacious thing to do. It sets the wrong impression from the start. Connect over email, rather than over a phone call. Only when the person says that they prefer calls or WhatsApp can you switch the communication mode.
Do some homework before the work
Take some time out to find out the work they have been doing in the organization as well as how they are as an individual so that when you finally get to the meeting, you know what their priorities are and what they deem important. This helps you make better conversation while making them feel that you understand them. They will also be more likely to be open to your ideas if it fits with their overview. Conversation is a two way street. It’s only successful when there’s meaningful dialogue. Asking questions is a good way to keep their attention as they’ll be more engaged when they feel they have something to say.
Confidence can make all the difference
Confidence makes the other person sit up and take notice. And that's what you should be aiming for. Preparing well ahead in time gives you the self-assurance that you can keep their attention and get your point across. Think of all the possible questions that you may be asked and have the answers ready. Senior leaders are often very well versed with their business as well as the industry. Therefore, brush up your knowledge before approaching them.
Be strategic and less tactical.
While it’s important to set a context, don't take too long to get to the point. Their schedules are usually jam-packed and in general, they are a busy bunch of people. In all probability, you may not have all day to talk to them. So don’t meander and get to the crux right in the beginning. Talk about your whys and hows later. However, assess the flow of the conversation. If it requires small talk then do so. Digress as long as it’s natural and unforced. Just go with the flow and match their beat. But, ensure that you come back to the point of discussion at hand and make the most of the designated time that you have been given.
Steer clear of jargons
With their experience of dealing with people, it’s easy for them to gauge when a person is trying too hard. Don’t try to put up an impression of being knowledgeable or showing what you have to say carries a lot of weight with the use of business and industry-related jargons. C-suite executives know the business, therefore, avoid them as much as possible. It’s also better to keep extra information with oneself and dole out only as much as required to keep the conversation simple and succinct.
Keep it brief
Making the best possible use of a small opportunity comes from connecting quickly and creating an impact. Break down big ideas and serve it in smaller chunks to keep the conversation from turning stale. Maintain the momentum and try covering all the necessary points. Setting up another meeting with them can be difficult because of their busy schedules and the window of opportunity being really small. Expressing oneself with brevity is a skill, which can come handy here.
There is more to CXOs than meets the eye. If an idea is rejected, understand why? For therein, lies the answer.