How to Communicate with Executives: Part II

April 10, 2014    |    Steve Mandel

In last week's blog post, drawing on my 30 years' experience working with executives, I talked about what it takes to be successful when presenting content to them. In other words, what do executives need to hear from you in order for you to earn their attention and respect?

This week, in Part II, I'm going to focus on how to present yourself in order to earn their confidence. What's your body language saying? Or your vocal tone and volume? 

Here's how executives expect you to present yourself.

“I want to see your passion, commitment, and command of knowledge.”

Passion and commitment are demonstrated not just with what you say, but also with how you say it.  In addition to the executive summary with which you begin your conversation or presentation, you now need to make sure that you deliver your message with the correct balance of energy and composure. 

As another executive put it: “Crisp and clean…with no caffeine!”  Too much energy and you'll look nervous.  Too little energy and you'll seem disinterested and lacking passion for the topic or the relationship.

“Act like you've earned the right to walk on the thick carpet.”

You can display confidence in your demeanor in a variety of ways.  Pay attention to your eye contact, your rate of speech (not too fast and avoid the "uhmms" and "ahhs"), and your posture. Speak in a confident and conversational tone. And practice, practice, practice.

Finally, the best advice I ever got was to treat the janitor and the CEO in the same manner: respectfully, kindly, and look them in the eye when you speak. 

Do sweat the small stuff.Too many people underestimate the impact of the innumerable small, non-verbal ways human beings communicate with one another. But, when it comes to earning the confidence of the corner office, how you talk to executives matters just as much as what you say.  


If you're interested in training for your team, to help them gain the skills needed to win the confidence of—and next conversation with—senior executives, Mandel offers two training programs specifically focused on how to present and lead productive conversations with executives: Present Your Ideas at the Executive Level™ and Make the Executive Connection™.