Presenting to senior management

What You May Not Know About Speaking to Senior Management

board_of_directorsBorn in the U.S.A. I was born in the U.S.A.

Bruce Springsteen

Like the Bruce Springsteen song, you were born in the U.S.A. But just because you're living and employed in the U.S., doesn't mean you're working in the U.S. culture.  A client recently shared her surprising insights with me, as we were discussing my training program, Presenting to Senior Management. This client works for a well known corporation that's headquartered outside the U.S.

One Size Does Not Fit All Senior Management

Presenting to senior management continues to be a challenge for many in the workplace. I hear managers complain that their staff is excellent at presenting at staff meetings, but once they go before senior management, they unravel.  Managers then feel obligated to attend every meeting. And their employees lose credibility because they defer to their manager, rather than owning their content.

While that scenario is fairly universal, communication becomes more complicated when the parent company is on foreign soil.

It's quite easy to misread the signals across cultures. Even when presenters are well-prepared, they can be perceived as over-confident by non-American senior managers. Americans can be perceived as aggressive without realizing it.

My client shared with me that senior management perceives staff as "not deferential enough". Presenters should refrain from saying "I recommend," advised my client. Presenters should instead substitute the words, "my proposal." The silence of senior management is frequently misinterpreted as acceptance by the U.S. staff, when in fact silence simply means senior management is not on board with the idea.

When this client asks her senior management what they think of a staff member's presentation, they may report that the presenter was "shallow". Upon further probing my client discovered the real meaning - the presenter was not deferential.

The next time you're presenting to senior management, remember it's not about living in the U.S.A. Company cultures are global. If senior management hails from another country, make sure you're familiar with their communication styles and values.

Whether you're company is based in the U.S. or abroad, you can learn how to communicate more effectively with senior management. Click here to learn more.