Speaking in front of CEO

Today we have a very special Toastmaster meeting. We invited the company CEO, Bob, to give a speech in the club and have a recognition ceremony for the club members. The speech by Bob is about career development. It is not the boiler plate speech he gave in the staff update. It is more inline with a Toastmaster inspiring speech. He told us stories from his career, then use the stories to emphasis the importance of the lessons he had learned.

From a bad presentation experience he once had in front of the CEO in TI, he learned the chance of speaking in front of the executives is very valuable, so don’t bomb it. The executives only have a few minutes of attention span, so you have to cut to the point fast, raise their interest and then explain the details later if they let you continue. Don’t try to deliver too many points, most people can remember a few points anyways. It is important to drive a few key points into their mind, so he can still remember what you talk when they walk out from the door. Those few minutes of presentation is the only chance for many people to leave a good impression to the executives, and at the end of the day it is the impression that counts.

Then he told us a story about why he left TI. There was a merge between three divisions. He was leading the most profitable division but the top jobs goes to another leading a money losing division. He thought he is smarter, more hard working, with good track record, so he should get the job. The lessons here is even you are very capable, you still have to good forester relationship with people at work, especially the right people. The guy who got the job is the one who can influence the directors to talk to the decision makers. Another tips from Bob is try to imagine where you will be in 5 years, then project the image onto yourself. Once again, it’s the appearance that matters. Dress and act like the person you want to be, and when time comes people need to find replace for that position, they will think of you first.

The last story was about him scrubbing the toilet in his summer job. This lesson is about managing expectation. Don’t look down on small and tedious jobs, you may amaze people how well you exceed their expectation.

Since it is a toastmaster meeting, I can’t help from counter the ums, ahs and all other blunder Bob made in his speech. Later in the meeting, he was invited to take table topic and got evaluated! No hands in pocket, it is not a good speech gesture and sign of nerviness.

As usual, I am one of the daring few speak in front of the CEO. I asked him a question in the Q&A session when everyone seems to remain silence. I guess I broke the dead air. I asked him how he made the jump from being an engineer to a manager. I think this question fits well with theme of today. In the table topic session, again there are not many people willing to speak in front of Bob, except Chris and me. Speaking in front of the CEO and get him know your name may or may not matter, but at least it couldn’t do any harm. Of course, unless you totally screwed up your speech and make an idiot out of yourself.

Bob Bailey

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