Do you need to influence up?
Influencing others is a critical skill for anyone in a leadership position. You may influence peers, your team, vendors, customers, and, of course, executives. Although the foundations of influence apply to all audiences, the five tips below will help you influence executives.
1. Clearly state what you want
Executives, more than any other audience are looking for the bottom line. They are listening for what you want and whether or not you make a good case for it. Tell them at the beginning what you want, make a clear case for it, and end with a direct call to action.
Example 1: If you need them to make a decision, start by telling them you need a decision on X. Give them your recommendation, and back it up with facts. Once you’ve made a solid case, ask them for their decision, and let them know when you need it.
Example 2: If you need authorization to spend on development, tell them up front that you believe it’s critical to make this investment in employees, and you need their authorization to do so. Go on to make a business case for the development, including the expected return on investment, and then ask them to authorize it.
2. Be concise
No rambling. Focus on the big picture instead of details. Although there are always exceptions, executives want presentations to be very brief. As you review your content, continually ask yourself if points are essential to achieving your purpose. If not, cut them out and focus on what is.
3. Make your points clear
Executives listen for the main points. Make sure yours are clear.
Let them know up front what to listen for: ‘I’m going to share three reasons we need to move forward on this’.
Call out each point by number: ‘The first reason is…’ ‘The second reason is…’
This will increase the likelihood that they hear and remember your points. Your points will only compel action if they are heard.
4. Prepare for smooth, logical delivery
Choppy delivery is often perceived as nerves, which can cause executives to lose confidence in your message. Don’t make the mistake so many others do and over-prepare for executives. When you do that, you’ll sound canned. They will likely disengage and then hammer you with questions to see if you really know what you’re talking about. Prepare enough so you know your points cold, but don’t memorize every word.
5. Exude confidence
The more confident you look and sound, the more confident executives feel. When they feel confident, there are fewer questions and you are more likely to achieve your purpose. Make eye contact with even the most intimidating executive. Speak with a strong voice and eliminate fillers.
Executives are a unique audience and require a unique approach. The next time you prepare for an executive audience, apply these five tips to help ensure your success.
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Dr. Heather Johnson is a nationally recognized speaker with extensive experience developing leaders. With a doctorate in Psychology and over 20 years of business experience, she works with leaders to quickly identify individual and team performance obstacles and develops customized solutions that lead to rapid change and lasting results. Heather facilitates public and in-house workshops that deliver personalized, practical, and immediate results. Some of her most requested topics are: Influence, Emotional Intelligence, Team Building, Communication, and Strategic Planning. For more information call contact us here or call 651-322-7821.