Executive communications are leadership informational exchange. It’s what happens when key people from the executive team have something to say. A key person may be the CEO, or any departmental head or a representative. Which means that executive communications are very important.
After all, when an executive team member has something to say, people pay attention. And departmental teams also pay a lot of attention. Also, whoever does not pay attention, stands to lose. From employees to investment bankers, everyone has an eye on executive communications.
In fact, leadership is always under scrutiny. Be it shareholders, partners or employees, everyone pays attention.
There is a lot about executive communications that has changed over the years. Some things remain the same. Some things should change. Find out more with a scroll.
The traditional core of executive communications
- They are Leadership Communications. This means that the entire process will be representative of the leadership. As such, every detail is very important.
- Are typically top-down or B2B. Upward communications are not executive, but rather targeting the executive. The focus should be on informational completeness.
- Are either internally or externally oriented. The former deal with employees, the latter deal with partners, clients, and the public. The priority is emphasis on nuances and equity. And by equity, we understand the root-word for equitable. A better word for fairness.
- Happen directly or indirectly. There is such a thing as Tacit Executive Communications. In this case, leadership may leave room for interpretation by not reacting.
- Certain meetings may constitute executive communications yet may be casual, not formal.
- Are business communications. Hence, they should be effective communication. They should follow all the rules that make communication effective.
- Have specific outlets. From special occasion speeches to presentations, annual reports, white papers, strategic messages. Some forms of communications through advertising are on the list. Branding, for example. And CSR policies.
The strategic core of executive communications
- They always engage two types of audience: an intended audience and a collateral audience. Any public communication will indirectly reach employees. Any memo or speech addressed to employees will spill out. Life-partners, friends, specialized websites that review employers.
- Clarity is the main priority. Considering how rumors can replicate and mutate, virally. The best way to control the echoes of your message is to be as clear as possible.
- Any type of communication has a targeted result. Hence, they must always happen with a pre-planned end result. The end result must be an interpretation of what the audience will understand. Also, it must take into account a forecast of the reaction of the audience. And it should also consider that people are different. Every team has introverts.
- The end result is a call to action. Even when the end result of executive communications is sharing good news. The call to action is still: “Be joyful!”.
- They need to always pre-empt bad situations. Executive communications should always come ahead and respond to a fault. For example, Samsung reacting to the battery debacle. It was admirable. Firstly, the leadership apologized. Secondly, it announced and organized a large investigation. At that moment, the general public was skeptical. Surely the investigation would be a cover-up. And this is when Samsung won the audience back. They spent all resources evaluating the issue. And apologized again. In fact, the leadership spent nearly 50 minutes apologizing. And the technical fault was explained to the satisfaction of all participants. Lastly, the leadership pre-empted the public outrage with a promise to do better. And future sales were saved. People might think such a promise is trivial. However, people acknowledged the efforts and the reactions were positive. In effect, this communication improved brand loyalty and client retention.
The heart of executive communications
- What people feel. The audience is made of people. And the message should be directed at people. The message must convey emotions that people can relate to. And you can do this by enveloping emotion in simplicity. Firstly, use positive phrases. Avoid hidden meanings and uncertainties. Secondly, keep it short an simple. Lastly, engage your audience. Either engage their situational awareness or invite to introspection.
- What people want. People are more interested in values. They care about doing meaningful work. And are concerned with your CSR policies.
- You need to be genuine. When you are genuine, your audience wants to know you. Your audience wants to know what you want. It wants to know what you need. Hence, you synergize. And you can do this in speech, as well as in writing.
- Caress team identity. When addressing an issue, beware. There is always a team that dealt with that issue. And being critical might hurt more than you can estimate. Instead, focus on the positives. Accept team failures as company failures and move on.
- Converge with your audience. You have two ears, two eyes, and one mouth. Use them in precisely these proportions. It is easier than ever to understand the composition of your audience.
- Silence is an amazing opportunity to generate negative space. You can have an entire crowd mesmerized by silence. Paying attention, waiting for something to happen. Similarly, in writing, you can have people mesmerized by a handful of words. Silence is powerful. In public, silence makes room for a powerful statement. In writing, a powerful statement creates silence which makes room for awe.
Overall, consider aligning these 3 key areas. The traditional, the strategic, and the heart of executive communications. These three create a synergy that guarantees success. And you can use this approach everywhere.