“Kevin is brilliant. Technically, very capable. But his executive briefings leave something to be desired.”
“She’s definitely on the fast-track. We have our eye on her. But she’s made a poor impression in meetings in front of several key people. Her communication skills really need polish.”
“Chris’s unit brings in 60 percent of the revenue. But he’s a loose cannon when he opens his mouth. Good thing he has a team that can communicate for him. If he loses two of his key people, he’s in trouble.”
Here are six C-suite communication characteristics that mark those who are poised to make their move to the top of the organization:
1. Think on your feet.
Whether in a strategy meeting, answering a colleague in the hallway, or responding to the media, you must be quick, clear, and concise (and it’s a plus if you’re clever) in expressing your thoughts extemporaneously.
2. Communicate the BIG idea.
No one gets promoted for talking about the weather or other water-cooler topics. Talk about big ideas, pressing issues, and current events.
3. Make data “tell a story.”
Don’t make the data-dump mistake. Shape your information into a meaningful story. What point does the data lead to? Don’t make your listeners do the work. Create the story they need to hear, supported with your facts.
4. Become a great storyteller.
Understand the value of real-life stories—yours or those of your employees, clients, or friends—to drive your message to both the head and heart. Stories make your point memorable. They do not need to be long to create impact. In fact, the shorter, typically the better. But do learn to tell your stories well. There is an art and a science to it.
5. Cut through the clutter to find the core message—quickly.
Great communicators summarize well. Strip away details to find the sentence or paragraph that sums up the essence of your message, idea, offer, vision, goal, or performance—and be able to do so at a moment’s notice. Make brevity your hallmark.
6. Speak authentically.
What you say and do should match who you are. Speak to express, not impress. Have something significant to say and communicate it in a genuine fashion. If you do, others will listen—and respond.
Do all of the above and you’ll express and impress—not only with your language, but with your ability to get a message across clearly, concisely, and credibly. Because C-suite residents possess C-suite communication ability.