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 (imagine!)
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 you might think. 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:
- Would you like to know about my team’s latest project/breakthrough/challenge? (Then tell them that story.)
- What are you excited about these days?
- What’s been keeping you up at night lately?
- What attracted you to this particular industry?
- What technology changes are you seeing in the pipeline?
- How do you see our culture evolving with the latest challenges?
- 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.