In my experience as an executive coach, I find that many professionals struggle to communicate their ideas. Most of us have at least occasionally found ourselves shot down when we try to share recommendations, and sometimes, we never even get to finish the conversation.

Here are two strategies to help you alleviate the frustration and concerns of presenting your ideas to senior leaders.

1. Stop questioning everything.

Many times, leaders that I work with tell me that when someone from their team comes in to present an idea, there can be a nonstop barrage of pushback on every point of discussion. While it is important to challenge assumptions, this can be too much of a good thing sometimes.

With too much challenging, you might start to get the reputation of "Here we go again, John is coming in to debate and fight on every little detail." With that assumption, your great idea is already lost in the noise even before you present. So with that in mind, it is important to watch for when it is time to stop questioning every point.

A good first step is to make sure that you are prepared for the conversation by prioritizing your most important key elements. So if your manager rejects your recommendation on a key point, this is when you challenge and question. If not, then move on.

Secondly, think about the telltale signs when you have lost the focus of the leader in the conversation.  Signs to watch for might be as simple as shuffling papers or eyes not focused on you. If so, now it is time to sit back and listen.

2. Avoid too much set-up. 

We all know it's key to provide context before discussing recommendations. However, many times there just isn't enough allotted space in the meeting, and you are left not finishing your recommendations or your manager has become impatient and needs to move on to the next topic. 

I recommend in some cases to just present ideas almost like a brainstorm session.  Then if an idea is interesting or hits on a key strategy, you can then provide some background and context that hammers home the recommendation.

A kickoff to this type of conversation might look like "I am going to quickly share five recommendations and then we can go back and dig into the ones that you think might meet our goals." This type of conversation can help with idea sharing so that the creativity will not be lost in the context or storytelling.

While there is a specific time and place to share context and ask a lot of questions, there are also many scenarios where a just getting to the idea in the mix is more important.  Using these two strategies will help you to effectively share your creative solutions.

Published on: Mar 11, 2019
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