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.

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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®

Introduction

I started PowerSpeaking, Inc. in 1985 to teach people how to make winning, career-building business presentations with confidence. Because the demand for these skills is huge, our company has been very successful. Our trainings provide excellent tools for people who present to their own departments, to subordinates, and to peers. By the early 2000s, however, I started hearing horror stories from mid-level managers about the terror they felt when presenting to senior-level management. Top-level meetings clearly require a different approach. One of our clients learned this lesson the hard way when he had a complete meltdown at a C-level meeting.

No Stories! Fire Gilbert!

Matt was a PowerSpeaking® graduate and a vice president of IT at a $3 billion Silicon Valley company. Preparing for a presentation to the founders and top officers of his company, he came to me for one-on-one presentation coaching. I drilled him on the importance of using stories to connect with his audience and to create long term retention of his core message. The research is crystal clear that stories are more powerful than data in this regard.1

In his own departmental meetings, Matt had used storytelling successfully. A major problem occurred, though, when, following my advice, he tried the same approach in his quarterly presentation to the executive staff. A few minutes into Matt’s story to illustrate one of his key points, the COO bellowed, “Where the hell are you going with this? Get to the point!”

Matt’s response reverted to childhood and made matters worse. Looking plaintively at the COO, he stammered, “Well, Rick Gilbert, the presentation coach you sent me to, told me to use stories.” Matt seemed to be looking for approval from a stern father. But instead of approval, the COO yelled, “Well, fire Gilbert and get on with it.” It was a bad day for Matt and a bad day for me.

As the speech coach who had just been fired, I called the COO to find out what had gone wrong. I told him about the research showing that stories move people more than data, and that stories aid in retention. I will never forget his blunt response, “We don’t have time for stories, and I don’t care about retention. We have to get the next agenda item on the table, make a decision, then move on.”

Suddenly a light bulb went on above my head. It was instantly clear that what works in most presentation situations can cost you your job in higher-level meetings. That conversation with the COO literally changed our business from that day to this.

Different Rules at the Top

Since that eye-opening exchange with Matt’s COO, we have been studying the dynamics of senior-level meetings. Like cultural anthropologists, we set out to explore the unique set of rules in this strange land referred to as “the C-suite.” We asked questions, such as: How can major projects and successful careers fall apart in a matter of moments at a senior meeting? Conversely, how does one become a corporate hero in the C-level meeting room?

To find the answers, we conducted in-depth, video-based interviews with 22 C-level executives. They shared priceless insights about how to survive and even thrive in the often brutal life at the top levels of corporate America. What they revealed, although not exactly secret, is generally unknown in the lower ranks. This explains why so many mid-level managers fail when presenting to C-level executives.

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OneID CEO Steve Kirsch being interviewed

In short, the insights these high-ranking executives shared will help you avoid presentation pitfalls and boost your professional standing in the process. Now let’s meet our senior executives.

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Greg Ballard
SVP, Warner Brothers

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Ned Barnholt
Chairman, KLA-Tencor

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Steve Blank
Founder, Former CEO, Epiphany

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Robert Drolet
Brig. General (Retired), Former Defense Industry Executive

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Dan Eilers
General Partner, Vanguard Ventures, Former CEO, Claris Corporation

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Doris Engibous
Board Member, Natus Corporation, Former CEO, Hemosphere, Inc.

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Anna Eshoo
Member, U.S. Congress California’s 14th District

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Harold Fethe
VP, Anacor Pharmaceuticals

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Ginger Graham
Board Member, Walgreens, Former CEO, Amylin Pharmaceuticals

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Vern Kelley
SVP, Intersil Corporation

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Steve Kirsch
CEO, OneID

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John Kispert
CEO, Spansion, Inc.

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Bryan Lamkin
CEO, Clover Network, Former SVP, Yahoo, Inc.

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Mark Leslie
Founder, Former CEO, Veritas Software

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Mike Lyons
Venture Partner, Paladin Group, Associate Professor, Stanford University

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Audrey MacLean
Co-Founder, NET, Former CEO, Adaptive, Associate Professor, Stanford University

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Felicia Marcus
Western Director, Natural Resources Defense Council, Former Regional Administrator, EPA

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Corinne Nevinny
General Partner, LMNVC

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Brenda Rhodes
Chairman and CEO, InTouch Communications

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Jane Shaw
Chairman, Intel

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Rick Wallace
CEO, KLA-Tencor

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Dan Warmenhoven
Executive Chairman, NetApp

Knowing what the expectations are at the top can mean the difference between a successful career and a new job search. Unfortunately, these lessons aren’t taught in business schools, but are often learned via real life fiascos. Throughout this book, you will hear directly from these C-level executives. They will tell you the best ways to present to them. Their advice can literally save your career, get your project funded, or even help your company pull ahead of the competition. In the following pages, you will get all the information you need to survive the rough and tumble of a senior-level meeting.

Speaking Up®: Surviving Executive Presentations is divided into four parts. Each part explores a different element of engaging with top-level decision makers. Whether you work in a corporate setting or a nonprofit environment, the communication issues you face are the same.

In Part I, we look in depth at who the C-levels really are. In Part II, we review the major problems—the “Seven Deadly Challenges”—that can derail your well-prepared presentations. You will follow the plights of six mid-level executives as they learn some hard lessons on the playing fields of “Mahogany Row.” In Part III, we provide a presentation plan that will keep your executives paying attention to you instead of their smartphones. In Part IV, the executives let you into their world on a personal level. The greater your understanding of who they really are, the quicker you will be able to create a collaborative relationship with them when you step up to the table and say, “Good morning.” Finally, on pages 189192 there is a glossary of terms used throughout this book.

 

Let’s get started …

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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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