Recently, I’ve had some short conversations with CxO stakeholders that made me remember they can be very different to those I’m used to. I wrote these notes that I thought I’d share.
Introduce yourself in one line
Start the conversation by saying in one line what you’re there to do in a way that they’ll understand. Be confident and specific about what you personally are doing for their organisation.
The first thing they’re probably thinking is who is this person and why do they want to speak to me. Get that concern out of their head from the moment you start talking.
Prepare topics not questions
Have a list of two or three main topics you want to discuss as you’ll find it hard to ask specific questions or get the type of answer you wanted to a specific question if you do.
Your topics might be: your priorities, your challenges, industry trends, or your success measurements.
Expect them to do 99% of the talking
Time with them is valuable because their time is valuable to their organisation, so don’t waste conversation minutes by asking long questions or saying more than you need to.
They also like talking lots because they’re considered an important opinion and are used to having to share it. Enjoy the fact they’ve chosen to want to talk to you, and are.
Remember keywords not details
It’ll be difficult to take notes during the conversation. Lots of things will be said in a short space of time, too much for you to write notes as the conversation progresses.
Instead, remember keywords to write down immediately after the conversation, such as simplification, standardisation, new leadership, or new markets.
If you really must take away something very specific, like the name of someone they suggest you speak to, pause the conversation while you make sure you write down the correct name. But I’d only allow myself to do this once, at the most twice.
Be relaxed, natural and yourself when you meet with them. Too much of their day will feel like it’s filled with people they don’t want to meet, make them glad they chose to meet with you.