No matter what your place in the organization, it’s good be boardroom ready. That means ready to hold your own in a conversation with senior leaders in your company and elsewhere.
The first time I taught a group of big-company (this was a major airline) head honchos I was quite surprised with how informal they all were. In fact the topic I was teaching them was “executive presence”. Even senior big-company big shots are always polishing their own communication skills (take note!)
Talking to board members, or C-suiters can be intimidating simply because you don’t know them. Yes they are high up the food chain, but my experience is that board members are more friendly than one assumes. People at this altitude usually have outstanding conversation skills.
The Best Conversation Starter Ever
Whether you’re chatting with the president or the custodian, the best conversation starter ever is….“Hi, how are you?”
Easy peasy. Once you get past the basic level of connection, you can continue with personal conversation, or take a business direction.
Business-specific Conversation Starters
Make your conversations with senior leaders more meaningful with these questions that can apply to almost anyone’s work:
- Tell me about your business model — what kind of customers generate the most revenue?
- Where do you see the most value in what your company offers?
- What’s the advantage your company offers customers over what the competition serves up?
- What attracted you to this particular industry?
- How are new technologies affecting your business?
- It sounds like you’re nailing it in this position. What would make someone unsuccessful in the role?
- What do you like best about your job and why?
You don’t have to wait until you get to the boardroom to use the questions. They’re great at networking events and conferences, even potentially for job interviews.
If you on the introvert side of things, consider ahead of time how YOU would answer the same questions so that you feel even more at ease.
Becoming boardroom ready ahead of time is the best way to secure your own place at the table.