Primary Blog/Communication & Public Speaking/Overcoming Fear and Communicating Confidently with Executives

Overcoming Fear and Communicating Confidently with Executives

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Do you freeze up when presenting in front of executives? Do their piercing eyes make you fumble your words? Many professionals become tongue-tied around higher-ups. The pressure is intense. It feels like one wrong word could derail your career!

Despite what you might be feeling, it is possible to speak to your higher ups without fear. When you use my F.A.S.T. approach for communicating with executives, you will have a framework to eliminate the dread in your executive communications.

This article will reveal the keys to communicating confidently with executives in four steps. You'll learn how to articulate your thinking, speak their language, and collaborate as equals. With the right techniques, executive communication can become much less intimidating.

F. Focus on Impact

When speaking with executives, focus on making an impact that aligns with the company's bigger goals. The higher-ups have dedicated their careers to moving the organization in a strategic direction. Your aim should be contributing to that same vision.

The biggest mistake professionals make is trying to impress executives rather than make an impact. Attempting to impress invariably causes a cognitive dissonance since being impressive is a prerequisite for impressing an audience, which places you as someone bigger or more formidable—a position that can feel at odds with humility and the formal hierarchy in the company. .

Humble professionals trying to impress often struggle in conversations or orations that include elements of diplomacy, persuasion, sales, or negotiation as it feels inauthentic to them. Alternatively, impression attempts could come across as brash, bragging, or cocky—quite opposite to the intended effect on the audience. Neither false humility nor forced bravado impress leaders focused on real impact.

The essence of impressing somebody means putting yourself higher or above. Effective communication is an outcome produced from equanimity of mind and equity in sustainable fair exchange, which are hallmarks of meaningful impact. – a relationship of equality and mutual respect. In return, focusing on impact creates equanimity and equity.

For example, focusing on impact could be to position yourself as a valued team member contributing to shared goals, instead of someone impressing from the top.

This positioning of equity and equanimity also reduces fear and anxiety. The pressure to impress forces an imbalance distorted towards positioning oneself above more senior executives. This distortion fuels self-consciousness.

Having equanimity of mind and establishing equity in sustainable fair exchange creates the foundation for relating as equal partners aligned on impact, which in turn empowers you to communicate authentically.

A. Articulate Your Principles

Many professionals default to giving executives an exhaustive play-by-play of their methods. They meticulously chronicle every step, data point, and contingency. While thorough, this misses the mark. It fails to connect the dots on the “why” behind your proposals – your principles.

To demonstrate strategic acumen, share the core principles informing your perspective. Principles are the foundational rules and values guiding your viewpoint. For example, “I prioritized this initiative based on the principle of long-term value over short-term gains.”

Principles reveal an ownership mindset toward values, not just obedience of process. This allows executives to connect your approach to strategic impacts. They see you operating from the same philosophical orientation.

Executives care less about the “how” of methods and processes, and more about the rationale behind them. Executives already have ample implementers – they want big picture thinkers who grasp principles. Articulating principles displays strategic alignment, not just tactical implementation. It transforms you from implementer to collaborator in the executive’s estimation.

S. Speak on Their Values

Executives have a unique set of values driving their priorities and decisions. Take time to understand what they value most. Their achievements align with these prioritized values.

When speaking, connect your ideas to the values that guide executives. This grabs their attention and shows you recognize what matters most to them.

Many professionals strive for agreement when presenting to executives. They want them to see things their way and buy into their recommendations. But agreement alone does not mean you've aligned with their values.

Every leader is committed to the fulfillment of their own values. When values align, they will see your ideas positively. When values conflict, resistance emerges despite surface agreement.

Instead of focusing on agreement, focus on communicating in accordance with the executive's highest priorities. Frame your ideas around how they further the executive's core values. Show how your proposals would help fulfill their vision.

This values-focused approach makes executives receptive to your message. You capture their attention by revealing shared principles, not just stating opinions. Equanimity and collaboration become possible through values alignment.

T. Transcend Towards Equanimity

Equanimity refers to a state of calm composure and confidence. To establish equanimity when communicating with higher-ups, it is essential to work towards a fair exchange in the relationship.

This balance is not merely a transactional one, but rather a holistic equilibrium that takes into account the time, energy, intelligence, and expertise that both you and the higher-ups contribute towards a shared mission. A sustainable relationship is built on the perception of equality between these inputs and the corresponding outputs.

When this balance is achieved, it fosters a sustainable relationship. This relationship, grounded in mutual understanding, allows for the restoration of equanimity both within you and between you and the higher-ups. With this mindset of equality, conversations can be conducted with calmness and composure.

Equanimity serves as a catalyst that enables both parties to rise above self-interest and collaborate effectively. The journey towards equanimity begins with a focus on shared goals, the articulation of sound principles, and an appeal to common values. This approach allows you to contribute your full potential confidently while also advancing the organization's vision.

In the journey of communicating confidently with executives, we've explored the F.A.S.T. approach.

Communicating confidently with executives is not about impressing them or asserting dominance. It's about aligning our efforts with the larger vision of the organization, articulating our guiding principles, speaking to their values, and fostering a sense of equanimity. By adopting this approach, we can rise above self-interest, contribute our full potential confidently, and advance the organization's vision.

Have you diligently explored leadership principles, delving deep into the theories and frameworks? You've built a strong foundation of knowledge, and now it's time to take the next critical step: turning insights into impact.

My executive coaching program is designed to be your bridge from understanding to action. This program is crafted for growth-oriented executives who are ready to step into their power and leave a lasting mark.

Are you ready to take the reins and shape your leadership legacy? Together, we'll embark on a transformative journey to unlock your full leadership potential. Apply for the program today and claim your limited spot to embark on your transformation.

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© Mastery Insights Inc. All Rights Reserved