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
- 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
- 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
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
- Effective communication
- Ability to read situations
- Poise under pressure
- Risk management
Make Executives feel special
- Maintain eye contact
- Ask good questions
- Lean forward
- Don’t interrupt
- Use their first name
- Don’t speak over someone
- Know the subtext of a question