A key component of being a good manager is being able to effectively communicate with leaders and key stakeholders. Whether it is a structured presentation or a more casual conversation, being able to “talk the talk” is crucial to letting leadership know how hard your team has been working and the challenges you are facing.
Before you start planning your presentation or conversation, be sure to fully understand the goals and interests of your audience. Doing so can help you save time by avoiding unnecessary topics and make your communication more effective and focused.
For example, investors in a small software startup might want proof that you are following through with the financial goals you outlined in your technology business plan and be less concerned with things like your social-media marketing plan. Similarly, if you are speaking to marketing leadership, they might be less interested in minute details related to product updates.
Showing Executive Presence
Part of being able to talk to leadership well is having executive presence. There are a number of resources out there on how to build your executive presence. Put simply, executive presence is the combination of particular characteristics, such as charisma and decisiveness, that make a manager more effective.
You will notice that there is a great deal of overlap between executive presence and the qualities of a good speaker. Just remember that neither one comes naturally to everyone, and both can be improved through time and experience.
Below are six tips that will help you communicate with leadership more effectively and build your executive presence.
6 Tips for Speaking With Leaders and Key Stakeholders
1. Align Your Team’s Objectives With Company Goals
Understand the goals of the company and align your team’s objectives with them. Ideally your company publishes its business plan annually that clearly defines your company’s goals. Be sure to read that and ensure that your team’s objectives align with the company’s goals and contribute to its success. Creating a “win-win” relationship in which each time your team wins, the company also wins, is ideal.
2. Share Both Successes and Challenges
Be prepared to talk about your team’s recent successes and challenges. While stressing your successes casts a positive light on you, presenting your challenges is also helpful in that it increases others’ empathy. Presenting the challenges you’re facing can also encourage others to provide innovative ideas and/or resources that can help you. Also, knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses will help you have a more productive conversation about how you can best contribute to the company.
3. Understand the Dynamics Within Your Organization
Be aware of the political landscape within the company. Understanding the relationships between different departments and stakeholders will help you navigate the conversation and ensure that your team’s interests are represented. Without taking such dynamics into account, even your best ideas may be shut down.
4. Have a Clear Vision
Have a clear vision for your team and be able to articulate it. More specifically, you should write down your team’s vision and make sure everyone on your team agrees with it. This will show that you are invested in your team’s success and have a plan for how it can best contribute to the company.
5. Adjust Your Messaging for Different Stakeholders
As mentioned above, it’s important to be aware of the different stakeholders involved and tailor your messaging accordingly. Each stakeholder will have their own objectives and you will need to be able to address them all in order to create a successful communication strategy. If you are speaking with a group of stakeholders, be sure to structure your conversation into clear sections. Or, if you are speaking with leaders at different times, remember to adjust your focus depending on what that person cares about most.
6. Don’t Forget a Summary
Finally, do not forget to provide a brief summary before and after a presentation. As you start, it may be helpful to briefly recap your team’s past accomplishments and key projects, what you are currently working on, and where you are headed. You can also provide another quick summary when you are finished, which will help leaders and stakeholders remember what you talked about and give them something to refer back to later.
Effective communication with leaders and stakeholders is an important part of being a successful manager. By following the tips above, you can start to build your executive presence and ensure that your team is always representing itself in the best light.