Working with corporate executive clients I’ve noticed that the majority of them have a really hard time communicating effectively with CEOs, Boards of Directors, and others in top positions within the organization or industry. They know how to prepare a presentation. But when they try to deliver the goods in the C-Suite they stumble and trip all over themselves. So let’s address this issue, shall we?
A High Stakes Game
Speaking to the C-Suite there may be a great deal more at stake. Your potential to prove yourself may be on the line. Do well and you may be on the fast track to a promotion or you may land a very lucrative client or contract. But blow it and you might experience some negative career-altering repercussions.
The Root of the Problem
You’re on a bigger stage. The audience may be less lenient and question you in a more aggressive manner. Addressing the C-Suite is like arguing a case in front of the Supreme Court versus arguing it in front of a local judge and jury. You’re in the shark tank, and the sharks want to cut through the fluff and get down to brass tacks. You need a new mindset!
Tips and Solutions
You have to be quicker on your feet, yet more articulate and eloquent. So you have to prepare differently, the way political candidates prep for a high-profile televised debate.
- Without proper mindset management you will naturally be seized by stage fright and fear. That will trigger the release of adrenaline, which is a natural “fight or flight” response. That’s where the trouble begins.
- Adrenaline makes your hands shake and your heart rate increase. Your breath gets tight and your voice quakes. You’ll start talking faster than normal. You’ll want to run and hide – not exactly where you want your head to be with your career on the line.
- Visualize yourself delivering the presentation. Imagine the toughest questions. Brainstorm 2-3 responses to each one, ahead of time. Work with a partner, if possible. Have them throw difficult questions your way in an attempt to knock you off your game. Practice responding to them with poise and grace.
- Rehearsing success rewires your brain to feel at ease under duress. Manage your mindset in this way and when you stand up to speak a different cocktail of chemicals will be released within your neurological system. They’ll boost your confidence and elevate your presentation to a whole new level.
You’ll be in control, as leaders should be. Those C-Suite decision makers will take note of your composure. They’ll see you as a rising star, not someone who crashed and burned on the hot seat.
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Sarah Hathorn is a leadership development mentor, executive presence coach, image and branding consultant, public speaker & author. She is the founding CEO of her own successful company, Illustra Consulting, and the creator of the proprietary Predictable Promotion™ System.
1-800-267-3245 | www.illustraconsulting.com
Copyright © 2013, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS