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Speaking in Small Rooms With Confidence – Rocks Digital 2016 Live Blog

We started off today with Brian Sullivan who clarified for us right off the bat that a conference (like Rocks Digital) isn’t a “small room”, an Executive Board meeting is a small room.

Brian founded 2 conferences –Big Design USA and Big Design Latin America.

Why does the strategy change in small rooms?

It’s not just about learning and laughing in a small room – in a small room the stakes are high – opinions vary and making personal connections is very important.

Key to Small Room Strategy = Planning – Presentation – Delivery

Preparation Determines Success

  • Use a right altitude for executives
  • Provide your punchlines first
  • Plan for interruptions & questions
  • Plan to practice, practice, practice

So, say you’re planning an hour-long talk – how much prep time should you plan on?

  • Researching multiply by 2 – so, for an hour talk, plan on 2 hours of research (at least)
  • Building slides multiply by 2 -another 2 hours
  • Practicing multiply by 2 – two more hours
  • Updating slides multiply by 1 – at least an hour doing this
  • “Pre-talk” talks multiply by 2 – another 2 hours prep time
  • Back Channel (after the meeting) multiply by 2-3 a “final” -3 hours of prep time

So, for an hour long talk, you are probably looking at AT LEAST 10-12 hours of prep time.

  • Alignment & support is needed – helps you anticipate questions
  • Be in control  – the conversation that you want to have is the question that you should ask
  • Practice
  • Do less better, use fewer slides
  • Know the language of leadership
  • Focus on business goals
  • Tell stories with available data
  • Structure with a future tense

Conversation Types

  • Personal connection
  • Friendly conversation
  • Problem investigation
  • Possible solution
  • Political discussion
  • Personal motives

The goal of a C-level meeting is to get the executive to expose their internal dialogue to you.

Three keys to success

Remember – Bosses have bosses, too!

  • Communicate business goals
  • Communicate in terms of risk
  • Envision a future state

A small room can be terrifying and nervous people will:

  • Talk too much
  • Forget to speak
  • Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Executives try to find weakness in the ARGUMENT, not necessarily the presenter – so if an executive challenges you, stop and ask yourself  – is it personal or is it personality?

Executives have fears, too

  • Fear of failure
  • Loss of reputation
  • Lawsuits
  • Competitors

They want YOU to alleviate the fears. They want YOU to have solutions.

Body language matters with executives

They are seeking trusted partners:

  • Executive presence
  • Extreme confidence
  • Decisiveness
  • Effective communication
  • Ability to read situations
  • Poise under pressure
  • Assertiveness
  • Risk management

Make Executives feel special

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Listen
  • Ask good questions
  • Lean forward
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Use their first name
  • Don’t speak over someone
  • Know the subtext of a question

Laura Darkstar

Laura Darkstar, owner of Adminderella, is an Administrative Strategist, Blogger, Entrepreneur & Aspiring Novelist. She loves social media and small biz owners.

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