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Your Career Will Rise or Fall on These 3 Tips for Communicating with Senior Executives

John Parker is Communicating with FINESSE
John Parker recognizes getting time with senior-level executives is not easy, so use your time wisely.

Having a conversation or presenting to senior-level executives and acquiring their time to do so can be very difficult. I would like to share a few ideas, tips, and lessons learned over the last few decades. I segment discussions with them into three different categories.

The first is what I call an "elevator conversation," where I have less than a minute to get a point or an opinion across. For career growth and other reasons, it is imperative to be thinking IN ADVANCE about what to say and how to say it, if the opportunity ever presents itself.

The second is… you are presenting to a senior-level executive. Ask your manager, peers, or others close to the senior executive how much they know about this topic, how to present to them, and how they typically respond to presentations. In other words, "know your audience" as it is no different with senior executives. Find out how much time you have, do not use it all, and allow time for questions and any other concerns they may have.

Rehearse presenting in less time than you have. Sometimes executives have a previous meeting that overruns or they may need to cut your meeting short. Be prepared in case you have to shorten your presentation.

Here are some additional guidelines when you have conversations with senior-level executives.

  1. Do not use acronyms, especially technology acronyms.

  2. Be professional and concise.

  3. Do not try to cram too much information into your presentation or elevator conversation.

  4. Use metrics and statistics when possible. Make sure the executive is familiar with the metrics or statistics.

  5. Practice your presentation. In fact, record it and listen to it. You may be surprised, and not in a good way.

  6. Provide a high-level or overview conversation on the topic. Have detailed data available in case they ask. One of the worst things you could do is lose the executive's attention because you are too down into the details.

  7. If your conversation is a proposal, provide several options and make a recommendation with data to back it up.

Finally, think about what questions you may be asked about the topic so you will have the answers ready. Remember, getting time with senior-level executives is not easy, so use your time wisely. Avoid having to schedule another meeting because you were not prepared to answer their questions.


John Parker is a Senior Data Center Operations Management professional with over 25 years of IT experience in 4 industries (Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Banking, and Software Development). John manages Global Data Center Operations and Disaster Recovery for an international supplier of geographic information system (GIS) software, web GIS, and geodatabase management applications based in California. His more recent focuses include reconditioning and consolidation of legacy data centers, collocation retirements and build-outs, managing hybrid data center models, and implementing ITIL Service Delivery initiatives.

John is also an accomplished international speaker, including engagements such as Vendor National Sales Conferences, IMN Conferences, the CDM-CIO Summits, the Digital Media Educators conferences, Cal Poly Tech Swift conferences, Data Center World conferences, and a guest speaker at universities.

John is a former president of the 7x24 Exchange International SoCal Chapter, resided on the Data Center Institute Board of Directors, and was president of local AFCOM (Advancing IT and Data Center Infrastructure Professionals) chapters in North Carolina (2000-2006) and Southern California (2007-2015).


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