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ITL Recap: Who the hell do you think you are talking to? A Discussion on Business Communication

True or False: Don’t worry so much about your PowerPoint- nobody likes PowerPoint anyway. [false] Last Friday at our IT Leadership Group Meeting, Andy Bingenheimer, Senior Vice President, Financial Crimes Development at U.S Bank, led an intriguing discussion on the topic, Who the hell do you think you are talking to? A Discussion on Business Communication. A huge thank you to U.S Bank for hosting our group! 

We kicked off the meeting with seven important points around executive communication:  

  1. Content and technical knowledge are “table stakes” but being right is not enough. Even if you are right, you still need to be able to effectively communicate the message. 
  2. What you say always matters, but in Executive level communication, how you say it can start to matter more. As you prepare for executive-level meetings, it’simportant to remember to not only focus on what you are saying that day but also how what you say will carry for years to come and the support it will offer.  
  3. Executive communication is a lifelong pursuit; your CIO’s likely work on this regularly. Mastering executive communication does not have an endpoint rather a lifelong journey of learning. 
  4. Trust and confidence are the foundation of a strong business relationship.  
  5. Understand your audience; stakeholder analysis matters. It’s crucial you get to know what their needs are so you can understand how you can help them. Another tip is to gather perspective from others who have interacted with your audience in the past. 
  6. Always be prepared with an external perspective. Make sure you take the time and energy to build credibility. 
  7. Communicate in terms of business outcomes and values. 

Our audience followed up the key points with a question, how do we detect the things they didn’t say to prevent future issues without being too aggressive? Some suggestions that were given included; think about what is really happening, repeat back, “here is what I’ve heard,” and meetings before the meeting may be just as important as the actual meeting.  

In addition to the important points of executive communication, there are 4 C’s to keep in mind.  

Comfort: This may be the hardest one, but with lots of practice, it will eventually start to become familiar. You can always use your network to practice on or even consider getting a coach.  

Context: It’s imperative to know where your audience is coming from and you have to be aware of who is in the room. Make sure to review the individuals in the room before the meeting. If your presentation has financials, always have finance look over your numbers before the meeting.  

Content: Start high and be prepared to go deep if asked. Use pictures and diagrams if applicable! 

Connections: It’s crucial that you build the relationship way before you need it. Connect to your audience, but stay and authentic to yourself.  

Developing your executive communication skills is an endless journey. We hope that you were able to take away a learning or new perspective on executive communication from this meeting. If you were unable to join us, you can view the slide deck here