Speaking Up

Surviving Executive Presentations

Frederick Gilbert (Author)

Publication date: 04/01/2013

Speaking Up

This is an indispensable resource for anyone who needs to know how to present to those higher up the chain

  • The first book to focus on presenting to senior management-people with very specific expectations and requirements and the power to make or break careers
  • Draws on interviews with more than fifty C-level executives
  • Includes nine chapters containing QR codes for free videos on the chapter topics
  • Click here for the press release

"There are two times when you're alone in life: one is when you die, and the other is when you present to senior management."

-Rick Wallace, CEO, KLA-Tencor

If you are in middle management, you live with daily ambiguity, lack of control, and even chaos. To get anything done, you must present your ideas to decision makers, and those presentations can be brutal. Careers and projects can come unwound in a matter of minutes if a presenter at the top level doesn't know the rules.

Fear in the middle creates fog at the top, and bad decisions are made. The stakes are high-one presentation can make or break a career-but the rules are utterly unclear. Or at least they used to be.

Speaking Up is an indispensable resource for anyone who needs to know how to present to those higher up the chain. It offers revelatory insights into the minds of the men and women at the top-information that is crucial to understanding what they're looking for from presenters. Tactics and techniques that work well with peers, subordinates, and immediate supervisors may actually work against you when presenting up the chain.

Psychologist and coach Frederick Gilbert shows why these high-level presentations are about one thing: delivering information to help extremely talented, highly stressed people make good decisions-fast.

Gilbert focuses on three simple rules for "speaking up": (1) know the people, (2) get to the point, and (3) improvise. Based on ten years of research and hundreds of interviews, Gilbert's book is unique in featuring extensive comments from executives explaining exactly what they want and don't want in a presentation, as well as midlevel managers' stories of triumphs and tragedies and what they learned as a result. This a must-read book for surviving high-stakes meetings.

  • The first book to focus on presenting to senior managementpeople with very specific expectations and requirements and the power to make or break careers
  • Draws on interviews with more than fifty C-level executives
  • Includes nine chapters containing QR codes for free videos on the chapter topics
  • Click here for the press release

There are two times when youre alone in life: one is when you die, and the other is when you present to senior management.

Rick Wallace, CEO, KLA-Tencor

If you are in middle management, you live with daily ambiguity, lack of control, and even chaos. To get anything done, you must present your ideas to decision makers, and those presentations can be brutal. Careers and projects can come unwound in a matter of minutes if a presenter at the top level doesnt know the rules.

Fear in the middle creates fog at the top, and bad decisions are made. The stakes are highone presentation can make or break a careerbut the rules are utterly unclear. Or at least they used to be.

Speaking Up is an indispensable resource for anyone who needs to know how to present to those higher up the chain. It offers revelatory insights into the minds of the men and women at the topinformation that is crucial to understanding what theyre looking for from presenters. Tactics and techniques that work well with peers, subordinates, and immediate supervisors may actually work against you when presenting up the chain.

Psychologist and coach Frederick Gilbert shows why these high-level presentations are about one thing: delivering information to help extremely talented, highly stressed people make good decisionsfast.

Gilbert focuses on three simple rules for speaking up: (1) know the people, (2) get to the point, and (3) improvise. Based on ten years of research and hundreds of interviews, Gilberts book is unique in featuring extensive comments from executives explaining exactly what they want and dont want in a presentation, as well as midlevel managers stories of triumphs and tragedies and what they learned as a result. This a must-read book for surviving high-stakes meetings.

Read more and meet author below

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Overview

This is an indispensable resource for anyone who needs to know how to present to those higher up the chain

  • The first book to focus on presenting to senior management-people with very specific expectations and requirements and the power to make or break careers
  • Draws on interviews with more than fifty C-level executives
  • Includes nine chapters containing QR codes for free videos on the chapter topics
  • Click here for the press release

"There are two times when you're alone in life: one is when you die, and the other is when you present to senior management."

-Rick Wallace, CEO, KLA-Tencor

If you are in middle management, you live with daily ambiguity, lack of control, and even chaos. To get anything done, you must present your ideas to decision makers, and those presentations can be brutal. Careers and projects can come unwound in a matter of minutes if a presenter at the top level doesn't know the rules.

Fear in the middle creates fog at the top, and bad decisions are made. The stakes are high-one presentation can make or break a career-but the rules are utterly unclear. Or at least they used to be.

Speaking Up is an indispensable resource for anyone who needs to know how to present to those higher up the chain. It offers revelatory insights into the minds of the men and women at the top-information that is crucial to understanding what they're looking for from presenters. Tactics and techniques that work well with peers, subordinates, and immediate supervisors may actually work against you when presenting up the chain.

Psychologist and coach Frederick Gilbert shows why these high-level presentations are about one thing: delivering information to help extremely talented, highly stressed people make good decisions-fast.

Gilbert focuses on three simple rules for "speaking up": (1) know the people, (2) get to the point, and (3) improvise. Based on ten years of research and hundreds of interviews, Gilbert's book is unique in featuring extensive comments from executives explaining exactly what they want and don't want in a presentation, as well as midlevel managers' stories of triumphs and tragedies and what they learned as a result. This a must-read book for surviving high-stakes meetings.

  • The first book to focus on presenting to senior managementpeople with very specific expectations and requirements and the power to make or break careers
  • Draws on interviews with more than fifty C-level executives
  • Includes nine chapters containing QR codes for free videos on the chapter topics
  • Click here for the press release

There are two times when youre alone in life: one is when you die, and the other is when you present to senior management.

Rick Wallace, CEO, KLA-Tencor

If you are in middle management, you live with daily ambiguity, lack of control, and even chaos. To get anything done, you must present your ideas to decision makers, and those presentations can be brutal. Careers and projects can come unwound in a matter of minutes if a presenter at the top level doesnt know the rules.

Fear in the middle creates fog at the top, and bad decisions are made. The stakes are highone presentation can make or break a careerbut the rules are utterly unclear. Or at least they used to be.

Speaking Up is an indispensable resource for anyone who needs to know how to present to those higher up the chain. It offers revelatory insights into the minds of the men and women at the topinformation that is crucial to understanding what theyre looking for from presenters. Tactics and techniques that work well with peers, subordinates, and immediate supervisors may actually work against you when presenting up the chain.

Psychologist and coach Frederick Gilbert shows why these high-level presentations are about one thing: delivering information to help extremely talented, highly stressed people make good decisionsfast.

Gilbert focuses on three simple rules for speaking up: (1) know the people, (2) get to the point, and (3) improvise. Based on ten years of research and hundreds of interviews, Gilberts book is unique in featuring extensive comments from executives explaining exactly what they want and dont want in a presentation, as well as midlevel managers stories of triumphs and tragedies and what they learned as a result. This a must-read book for surviving high-stakes meetings.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Frederick Gilbert

Rick is the founder and chairman of PowerSpeaking, Inc. a speech communications training company in Redwood City, California. Rick’s coaching of more than 200 senior-level executives led to the creation of the award winning Speaking Up®: Presenting to Executives. Before starting his own company, Rick held quality assurance and communications management positions with Hewlett- Packard and Amdahl corporations in Silicon Valley. He is the author or two other books: PowerSpeaking®: How Ordinary People Can Make Extraordinary Presentations, and Jazz, Rock and Roll, and the Revolution in Psychotherapy, 1950–1975 (based on his doctoral dissertation). His articles on communication have appeared in magazines and newspapers nationwide. His PhD from Saybrook University is in humanistic psychology.

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Table of Contents

Foreword

Preface

Introduction

PART I The People at the Top

1 Clueless

2 Life at the Top

PART II Survival Tactics at the C-Level

3 The Seven Deadly Challenges

4 Time Cut: A $30,000/Hour Investment

5 Disengaged Executives: It's You or

the Smartphones

6 Food Fights: You Are Not the Referee

7 Decision Maker Leaves: Reading the Room

8 Topic Change: Time to Improvise

9 Side Talk: Keeping Your Poise

10 The Energetic Discussion: Less Talking

and More Listening

PART III Creating Winning Executive Presentations

11 Content + Facilitation + Listening

+ Improv = Success

12 Public Speaking Unplugged

13 Delivery Style

14 I Really Did Give a Damn!

PART IV Career and Personal Advice from the Top

15 Parents, Mentors, and Role Models:

Looking Over the Pickle Barrel

16 Career Challenges

17 Career Advice

18 Legacy

Conclusion

Acknowledgments

Glossary

References

Endnotes

Index

About the Author

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Excerpt

Speaking Up®

CHAPTER

1

Clueless

A presentation cannot make a career, but a presentation can undo a career.

—Bryan Lamkin

As a mid-level manager, you are accustomed to leading your own meetings. You may be a very successful leader with 30 or 300 people under you. In your quarterly off-site meetings with your entire team, your presentations are enthusiastically received. You are a respected and successful leader. Your career is on track. The problem is, when you walk into those quarterly review meetings with the C-level staff, all bets are off.

The stakes could not be higher. Your job, your project, and the jobs of those people who report to you hang in the balance every time you get up to present to senior leadership. This is make or break time. Many a boardroom has been bloodied by the carnage left in the wake of an unprepared speaker, clueless about the rules of the game. It happened to me.

How I Went Down in Flames

I confidently walked into Dick Anderson’s spacious office at the Hewlett-Packard Computer Systems Division in Cupertino, California. I was manager of our quality publications and training programs. The year was 1982 and I was just two years into my business career. It was my first meeting with a real senior executive. I was accompanied by my boss, Ilene Birkwood, the functional manager of Quality Assurance, who reported to Dick, the general manager of the division of 3,000 people. Our meeting had been scheduled for 30 minutes, but ended abruptly in 15. We didn’t get what we wanted. In spite of my confidence, something had gone terribly wrong, and I didn’t know what it was, or why it happened.

image

Focus on Quality

With the clarity of 20/20 hindsight and years of research, I now see what went wrong at that meeting. First of all, I presumed that this meeting was all about me, and a big deal in Dick Anderson’s day. After all, I was a manager, and what could be more important than my quality training program? Well, a whole lot, actually. Although huge for me, my presentation was only a small part of Dick’s complicated schedule that day.

Dick Anderson had much bigger, more compelling concerns than me or my proposal. He had just made national business headlines. During the early 1980s, the Japanese were making inroads not only into the automotive industry, but also into the world of high-tech. Their attack on American commerce dominated the business and popular press. In this competitive environment, Dick had made the decision to buy Japanese-made computer components because of their proven higher quality. As Dick said at the time, “We want to build high quality computers, but how can we do that if the memory chips keep failing?”

This had created quite an uproar and brought him attention from HP corporate offices. His focus that day might have been on a few other things—perhaps an interview with Business Week in the next half-hour or possibly his upcoming meeting with the HP Board. Dick oversaw an entire division of HP. His interest in my little slice of the pie was, to say the least, limited. (See Dick’s reflections on our meeting in the summary of Part I, page 29.)

Your presentation is vitally important to you, but remember the executives are processing information from 25 to 50 different parts of the company.

—Felicia Marcus

The biggest lesson I teach executives and students is that your worldview is pretty narrow. The people above you are dealing with a much larger context than you are, and if you want to get good quickly, you need to understand more than your little piece.

—Steve Blank

The second mistake I made was seeing Dick as a father figure who would give me a pat on the back for my brilliant training efforts. With a background in humanistic psychology, I had hoped we could create a bond through our mutual commitment to training and the human potential. After all, aren’t happy, fulfilled, even self-actualized employees good for business? Couldn’t our quality training programs create peak experiences for them? Surely Dick would want to work with me toward the lofty goal of enriching his employees’ work experiences.

Well, not exactly.

Yes, Dick had set aside a half hour in his demanding schedule for our meeting, but it was my responsibility to let him know why we were there and what we needed from him. It was up to Ilene and me to get that message across clearly and quickly, then get the hell out of his office. As soon as he became aware that we didn’t have our act together, the meeting was over. He knew enough to value his time even if we didn’t.

Since I made that ineffective presentation to Dick Anderson, the senior-meeting challenge is more treacherous than ever for mid-level managers. With growing pressure from issues like globalization and the speed of business on the Internet, performance demands on senior leadership increase daily. There’s no time for, “Hi Bob. How was your weekend? How’s the family?” Today’s demand is: “Let’s get right to it. I have another meeting in ten minutes.”

I walked into that meeting like a naïve schoolboy hoping to please his teacher, rather than an effective professional. I lacked the knowledge of HP’s overall objectives, or Dick’s objectives, or how my department could support those objectives. To put it mildly, I was clueless.

Summary

Our company has worked with thousands of mid-level managers and executives preparing them to “speak up.” I can assure you that what happened to me as I struggled to understand how to relate to senior leadership is not uncommon. If you enter corporate life without formal business training, as I did, you will learn these communication rules by trial and error, if at all. It doesn’t need to be that way. What follows is a road map, a compass, and a GPS to help guide you on your journey into that unknown territory called “the C-suite.” These are the tools that will help you be successful every time you “speak up” in your organization.

Now let’s learn more about the people sitting around that big table who are waiting for your opening line.

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Endorsements

"I wish I had access to these insights when I was on the other side of the table. Now I will recommend this book to my entire management team."

-John Kispert, CEO, Spansion

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