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How to Talk to an Executive Team - Communication Coaching for Engineers and Leaders

Paul Vickers
Jun 21, 2023 11:47:26 AM

How to Talk to an Executive Team


Paul Vickers, Sr. Dimensional Engineer, and DFSS Master Black Belt


Improving communication with your leadership team will help your team deliver quality results on time with better business outcomes.  Following a simple model you can meet your goals, positively impact the business and leave the executive team with a positive impression of you!  


The key to effective communication with your executive team is
●    Be brief
●    Be bright
●    Be gone.

This blog highlights how and why this simple model will help you and your teams achieve better communication outcomes.  This strategy will help you create an intentional and impactful interaction with your leadership teams.

Be Brief

Be brief -- summary - DCSExecutives are busy people.  Executives need you to get to the point. Keep your message concise, be organized, and stay on subject..Start with a single statement that describes why you are there.   Are you there to inform, ask for help or drive a decision?     Be clear at the start.

If you are there to inform, keep it very short.   Avoid unnecessary details.   Executives manage at 10,1000 or 100,000 meters.  In general, they do not want or need details.  Be prepared to speak in detail, if asked.  But don’t start there.

If you are there to ask for help, be specific about what help is needed – people, facilities, time, money - and why.  Be sure and include how much!   

For example:

●    I need a measurement technician for two days to meet PPAP or production start will be delayed.  
●    I need to use the electrical lab for two days to test the flux capacitor before 2015/10/21 or Marty McFly will not return on time.

If you are there to drive a decision, then state the business problem, provide alternatives, and be sure and make a recommendation.  Include why you recommend that course of action.   Do not go into great detail about the alternatives or the data.  Summarize at a high level.   Be prepared to go into details if and only if asked to do so.

Rules of thumb for detail. 

●    All the information needed should fit on one page (100,000-meter view)
●    Replace lengthy paragraphs (and sentences)  with short bullet points.
●    Replace wordy descriptions with pictures
●    Replace tabled data with graphs.
●    Key Supporting Data should fit on two pages (10,000-meter view)
●    Additional pages can be added as backup and should only be used if asked!

Remember a picture is worth a thousand words. Use more pictures, graphs, and flow charts instead of words.  Use color to highlight key information.   But don’t overdo the color!  Color should be used to focus the eye on the most important information.

One final thought on word usage.   Your goal is to communicate efficiently and effectively.  Choose the shortest, simplest words in your oral and written presentations.  The higher up the food chain the simpler the words.  Many people use big words to sound smart.  A recent study by Preply (https://preply.com/en/learn/words-that-make-you-sound-smarter) found almost half of the people think you are trying to sound smarter than you are! Keep it simple.

Download the eBook to read the next two parts, or watch the blog for more


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