Presentations to Stakeholders and C-Suite Executives | BridgeBetween.com

Tips for Effective Presentations to Stakeholders and C-Suite Executives

It’s not the same ballgame as a project update for team leaders!

Yes, giving presentations to stakeholders can be a little nerve-wracking. You want to make sure you set the right tone and deliver the appropriate content to achieve whatever purpose the presentation serves. It’s also important to see these events as opportunities to be noticed by senior level executives. Good presentations to stakeholders will help cement your position and possible growth opportunities!

Be clear about your audience

Strong public speaking skills can be very helpful. And, when it comes to the content of a presentation, knowing your audience is key. The CEO may not be interested in operational level details or want to understand the intricacies of the project at a micro level. Your content needs to be geared to the audience you are delivering to.

Most executives are more interested in the macro level, like:

  • Where the project is on the projected timeline
  • How much it’s going to cost at the end
  • How will it be implemented
  • What is the overall return on investment

The details of HOW you get there on a day to day basis aren’t irrelevant to the senior level, but they typically don’t need a presentation on these.

Make sure you find out who will be in attendance and whether they have their own agenda to be taken into consideration. This is a good time to tap other team leaders who have presented to the executive group before for advice!

Be specific

If you’re being asked to present to the C-Suite on the projected return on investment and participation levels, don’t start talking about human resources issues, or other items that weren’t specifically requested. Executives don’t have a lot of time on their hands so wasting any of it will not result in a favorable view of your skills.

 

“Assembling five C-level leaders from a $5 billion company costs shareholders $30,000 per hour. CEO’s report that 67 percent of the meetings they attend with subordinates are total failures—resulting in a huge productivity loss for the company.” (SOURCE)

 

Also, when making presentations to stakeholders, skip the dramatic lead up to the most important part of your presentation and get to the meat of it, right off the top. People with limited time will appreciate your getting to the point.

Be prepared

Even if you were asked to present on a particular topic or area of a project, be prepared to answer questions that aren’t specifically on that topic. You have an audience with the decision makers so make sure that you can handle what they throw at you. Don’t lie, though, or make things up. There’s no way to dig yourself out of that kind of mistake.

Be confident

This is part of being prepared. If you’re ready for questions and queries — without shuffling paper, avoiding eye contact, and doing a lot of excessive hemming and hawing — you will come off confident and knowledgeable.

For ANY audience, but even more so with the C-Suite, confidence breeds confidence. They’ll lend more weight to your statements if they feel you know what you’re talking about. Content is still the most important part but delivery, and particularly poor delivery, can hurt the message.

Be respectful of the clock

If you’ve been given thirty minutes, don’t exceed it. Time your presentation to allow for a question and answer session afterward. It’s important to respect the clock and people’s time. Practice your presentation beforehand, several times.

Finally, remember that stakeholders and C-Suite executives are just people who put on their pants like all the rest of us do: one leg at a time. They’re not gods and while they might have some input into your corporate fate, they’re not to be feared.

Ultimately, you all have the same goals: the success of the project and the company. So keep that in mind, get ready and knock it out of the park!

Quality Team Feedback | BridgeBetween.com

Providing Quality Feedback to a Team

Getting your feedback message across, without being negative, is the key!

Feedback is VERY important when running a team. Regular feedback lets team members know how their work is being perceived and whether they are on the right track.

But the very idea of receiving feedback can be upsetting to some, as their past experiences might equate ‘feedback’ with ‘ripping a person to shreds’. It can make people defensive and nervous, so it’s important to handle it carefully.

Team members have to hear it for feedback to work

In order to be effective, feedback must first be heard. This might sound silly, but badly delivered feedback is often misconstrued in its meaning or intent and ends up being of little use to the recipients.

What is badly delivered feedback?

Where only negative feedback is provided, without the inclusion of anything positive. Team members are less likely to listen to it, or act on it, if it’s totally negative.

  • Where feedback is judgemental. Is the feedback delivered in ways where the receiver feels ‘unsafe’, as if it is intended to make them look incompetent or as a personal judgment?
  • Where the leader is not clear and forthright. If the feedback is purposely vague out of fear of confrontation or a poor reaction, it can have a negative impact overall.
  • When the feedback is not specific. This is similar to the previous point in that confusion is the result for the team, instead of useful information that they can take on board.
  • Where feedback is not productive. If the feedback only serves to take people down and doesn’t provide a platform for growth and confidence building, it’s not good feedback.

Related: Team Communication: How to Speak So Your Team Will Listen

Qualities you need to give feedback effectively

As a leader, your feedback will be more readily taken on board if you have these qualities: authority, credibility and trustworthiness.

If you have the authority to provide the feedback, in that you are the right person to be doing it in the structure of your team, you are more likely to be heard. Peer to peer feedback CAN work in some circumstances but most people on a team see themselves as equal and are reluctant to take criticism from someone they don’t consider as being in a leadership role.

Authority also comes with time. A brand new leader of a team may not be speaking with authority when they give feedback due simply to the fact that they haven’t interacted with the team long enough to be in the know.

Credibility is important in that if you don’t know your subject matter and you are unfamiliar with the team, you won’t have much credibility with them, and nor will your feedback.

Finally, trustworthiness comes down to that element of safety, mentioned earlier. Feedback given in the right circumstances and environment builds trust and a solid working relationship. If the team members feels that the feedback given will be shared inappropriately or otherwise misused, it won’t be heard.

Five essentials when giving feedback

  1. Be positive!
  2. Be specific!
  3. Be timely! (Giving feedback on something that happened six months ago isn’t particularly helpful!)
  4. Be clear!
  5. Be conversational! (Make it a conversation, not a commandment. Allowing the team to respond and discuss the feedback is important.)

Related: How to Get Your Team to Speak Up

Following up is another essential key in providing feedback. Giving it and then just leaving it out there, without a time frame for following up to see if it was heard/implemented, isn’t helpful to you or your team. This is a chance for you to give positive feedback when the team is doing what you requested. Don’t miss it!

If you need help to learn the subtleties surrounding the art of giving feedback, consider getting some coaching. You can learn to give even the hardest feedback clearly, without judgment and in a way that the receiver can hear and act on it.

team communication

Team Communication: How to Speak So Your Team Will Listen

Not only listen, but take action, too.

Team communication should be very important to all leaders. Whether speaking to a large group or a small team, there are ways you can engage with your ‘audience’ so that they will not just hear you but actively listen and even take action on what you’re telling them. It’s an art form, really.

Motivating positive reactions versus acting from a place of fear, or worse, disdain. It’s an important skill for leaders to master in order to be effective with their team.

Be genuine and be present

No matter the size of the group, if you speak to all them as if you were speaking to one of them, you’re more likely to get a positive response. It’s not an easy thing to do at first, and will require some practice, but doing it will reap many rewards.

Appearing genuine and human is essential for people to want to take in what you’re saying and, further, act on it. That really only comes if each person in the audience feels as though you are speaking directly to them. Putting on the ‘big shot’ persona isn’t appealing and doesn’t invite others to act on your words. Be real.

Being present is also important: eye contact for smaller groups, body language that is open and receptive, focusing on what is happening in the moment and not fidgeting, fussing or, worst, looking at a phone. The audience needs to feel that, in that moment, you are 100% there for the message and for them.

Listen—actually listen—to the feedback

Feedback isn’t always verbal. Take non-verbal cues from your audience into account when you are speaking with them. You need to be able to adjust what you’re saying on the fly, so that you don’t lose the audience and you remain connected to them.

Someone who feels they need to say everything they had on their agenda, regardless of how it’s received, simply to ‘make their point’, isn’t communicating effectively. If you’re looking for feedback or an actual dialogue on the subject, you’ll know that you’re not reaching your audience when they tune you out or don’t ask any meaningful questions.

Further to the last point, you should always be looking to create that dialogue. Communicating to create action is not a one way street: it’s not command it, and it will happen. People simply don’t respond to that kind of demagogue like speechmaking.

Focus on the WHY, not the WHAT

When you want people to act on what you’re saying, you have to give them the motivation and, to some extent, that feeling is more important than the acts themselves. Look at it like storytelling: if you tell a group WHY you’re passionate about a new process that you want to put in place, and not just THAT you want to put it in place, you will develop buy in from your audience far more quickly and effectively.

If you start with just the fact of a change that you want them to engage in, you’re putting walls and barriers for those who might be reluctant followers before you’ve even begun. If you start with the why, your motivation, your passion… you will get far more people nodding along with you, understanding your thought process and wanting to run with it on your behalf.

The reality is, most people aren’t born communicators. The skills needed to reach an audience and compel them to action are learned. It’s a major effort for most people but it’s worth every moment spent acquiring the skills and practicing them because communication and leadership are synonymous. You really can’t have one without the other.

 

With that in mind, executive coaching might be just what you need to take your communications, and your leadership, to the next level. Contact us today for more information.

Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

It’s easier than you might think for a leader to upset the morale of a team.

If you are in any kind of management or leadership role, you know that managing different personalities and work styles can be difficult. Everyone has their little peccadillos that need to be handled appropriately.

But there are things that some leaders do that will almost universally upset the balance and morale of a team. It’s not that your team are delicate snowflakes that need to be handled with kid gloves, but they are people and they have feelings. If you abuse them or their trust, you will have a morale problem on your hands that will be very difficult to walk back from.

Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

Here are some ways you can really freak out your team. The moral of this story? Don’t do them.

1. Be an Emotional Yo-Yo

One minute, you’re happy and laughing. The next minute, you’re slamming your office door and giving people the silent treatment. Are your mood swings even related to work? Or are you bringing your personal life to the office? Like the Hare and the Tortoise, slow and steady wins the race. Whatever is going on in your life or at the office, you need to display outward calm and control.

I knew a manager once whose employees would do a walk-by of her office to peek in at her and see how she was looking before daring to go in to ask for time off, or even a simple query about a project. That’s not leadership. The instability this causes among team members is a major hit to morale.

2. Be a Bully

Unless you’re wearing a crown, you don’t get to behave like a bully. And even if you are wearing a crown, it might not be a good idea. Intimidation and public humiliation are not management techniques. Using threats to get results will not propel a project forward in a positive way but will result in people feeling like their jobs are constantly on the line.

It even comes down to the way you communicate with your team. Good leaders ask for input and make requests. Bad leaders demand things of their team. The rules of the game apply to you too, and don’t think your team won’t notice if you think they don’t.

3. Make Poor HR Decisions

Even worse than making a poor HR decision is not making them at all. Your team needs you to make hard decisions, not pussyfoot around. Not dealing with team members who aren’t performing or have a negative attitude is a great way to bring down morale. It looks like you have no interest in the team or the project at best, or that you are blithely unaware of the problem, at worst.

Putting the right people in the right roles so that they can do their jobs effectively is not an exercise in politics or patronage. It’s an exercise in getting the job done. The right people are those who are qualified and motivated to do the work. If you’ve done your job correctly, by putting together a good team, you won’t need to micromanage them, treating them like kindergartners.

4. Stop Communicating With Your Team

This is on the same line of thought as ‘not being an emotional yo-yo’, above, but even more so, a good leader is straightforward with their team. Don’t make your staff guess at what you’re trying to tell them. Improperly communicating expectations will just result in the team not meeting them. Why? Because they can’t read your mind!

Feedback is essential for good team building. Not the dreaded once a year annual review, which no one appreciates, but on an ongoing basis. A good leader will offer positive or constructive feedback throughout the lifecycle of a project. Bad leaders will say nothing until they’re unhappy, equating feedback with criticism. Eventually, team members will avoid communicating with a leader who can’t or won’t share useful comments.

In the same vein, building a culture of blame and finger pointing instead of finding solutions to problems is a communication issue. If you are only looking for the holes and who created them, instead of finding ways to mend them, you’re not going to get far.

5. Take the Credit Where It’s NOT Due

By far, one of the easiest ways to upset a team is to blame them when things go wrong but take all the credit when things go right. Worse, if you refuse to admit when you don’t know something or when you are wrong about something. It comes down to being forthright and clear with your team, and having an understanding that without them, you have nothing. Appreciating their efforts is the single best way to boost their spirits and commitment.

Building a team and being a good leader are remarkable goals. They’re totally attainable as long as you keep both feet on the ground and work to achieve them with honesty and purpose.

Do You Want To Be an Exceptional Leader? | BridgeBetween.com

Do You Want To Be an Exceptional Leader?

Communication is the key

There are leaders and then there are LEADERS. The latter are people who are able to inspire and motivate those around them with seemingly little effort. Those who follow their direction are energized, galvanized, uplifted and electrified.

These are some strong words to describe the mindset of some teams and the leaders who are truly successful at inspiring these sentiments can do one thing better than anything else: they can communicate well.

Exceptional leaders use all forms of communication

Humans communicate in a multitude of ways: voice is just one of them. A good leader will make use of all the ways of communicating at their disposal, including body language and listening skills.

A leader with arms folded across their chest all the time, eyes darting in every which direction like a nervous tic will not elicit a lot of confidence in those he or she is communicating with. Open stance body language and eye contact, with their full attention focused on whomever they are communicating with are important ways that a good leader will show, not just say, what they are trying to share.

A good leader will always be looking at the recipient of his or her words and actions to gauge reaction: are they responding? Are they nodding? Are they engaged?

If a recipient isn’t engaged, a good leader will adjust their stance, their body position, their facial expression, even their distance, to try and elicit a better, more positive reaction. Some of this is instinctive: we want to know that people are hearing us; but a lot of it is learned and acquired over time, by paying attention to cues from listeners.

Listening skills are just as important in communication as active speaking or body language. A leader who listens but does not actually hear what people are telling him or her isn’t really participating in a two-way discussion.

Without open discussion, a leader isn’t engaging with his or her team in a meaningful way but is instead issuing directions instead of creating a culture of communication.

Exceptional leaders are clear in their messaging

Whether talking about their vision for the company or the structure of management for a specific project, clear communication is vital. To that end, specific communication, using clear and unencumbered language in an even tone is the best way to ensure that everyone understands and is on the same page. Sarcasm, snark and even misplaced jokes can quite unintentionally create barriers to communication.

Clarity comes from confidence and knowledge. If a leader doesn’t really know what they are talking about or they are not confident in their knowledge, it shows. They will tend to say whatever comes into their mind instead of providing thoughtful comments or feedback.

It’s the mark of a good leader when even negative feedback is given in the spirit of improvement rather than as punishment.

Exceptional leaders are humble in their statements

A truly effective leader doesn’t expound on a topic as if they were the only one who understood things. They don’t pontificate. They share information from their point of view, in their own unique voice, with directness and politeness, and with evidence of appropriate reflection on what they are saying.

False or hyperbolic statements are easy to spot and a person who speaks that way regularly will eventually be dismissed by those around them.

Teams will follow a leader who understands them and whom they can understand, a leader who takes the time to listen and reflects back to them what he or she has heard. Being a good leader is very much about open communication with peers and subordinates alike, and less about speech making.

Being a good leader is very much about open communication with peers and subordinates alike, and less about speech making.