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Team Development 13 - Unlocking Performance

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  1. Identifying Opportunities
    5 Lessons
  2. Driving Growth
    5 Lessons
  3. Maximizing Shareholder Value
    5 Lessons
  4. Delivering Results
    5 Lessons
  5. Managing Underperformance
    5 Lessons
  6. Variance Analysis
    5 Lessons
  7. Communicating Progress
    5 Lessons
  8. Forecasting Future Impact
    5 Lessons
Topic 4, Lesson 2
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Effective Communication with Executives

Dan Wells August 15, 2023
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Welcome to the second lesson of the “Delivering Results” module. In this lesson, we’ll explore the importance of effective communication with executives and stakeholders. Being able to convey your insights both in writing and verbally is crucial for ensuring that your results updates have the desired impact. Additionally, we’ll provide you with tips on how to navigate interactions with more senior professionals, including building gravitas.

Written Communication: Clarity and Impact

When communicating with executives, written updates must be concise, yet comprehensive. Ensure your message gets across clearly without overwhelming the reader. Structure your written communication with a clear executive summary that highlights the key points. Provide context, highlight trends, and offer insights that tie back to the organization’s strategic goals. Be mindful of the tone you use, aiming for professionalism and clarity.

Verbal Communication: Engage and Tailor

Verbal communication is equally important. When presenting to executives, maintain eye contact and project confidence. Engage your audience by sharing anecdotes, relatable examples, and real-world impact. Tailor your message to the interests and concerns of your audience. Be prepared to answer questions succinctly, demonstrating your command over the data and your ability to communicate complex information in a digestible manner.

Using Graphs and Visuals: Enhancing Impact and Clarity

In the world of finance, numbers tell a story, and graphs and visuals are your tools for bringing that story to life. Incorporating graphs and visuals into your results updates can significantly enhance your communication with executives. Here, we’ll explore the dos and don’ts of using graphs and visuals effectively to convey complex financial information.


  1. Choose the Right Type: Select the appropriate graph or visual for the data you’re presenting. Bar graphs, line charts, pie charts, and trend visuals are common choices. Match the visualization to the data’s nature and intended message.
  2. Simplify Complexity: Use visuals to simplify complex data. A well-designed graph can make it easier for executives to grasp trends, patterns, and comparisons quickly.
  3. Highlight Key Points: Emphasize the key insights you want to convey. Use labels, annotations, and color coding to draw attention to specific data points or trends.
  4. Keep it Clean: Keep your graphs clutter-free. Avoid excessive data points or decorations that can distract from the main message. Use a clear title and appropriate labeling.
  5. Tell a Story: Use visuals to tell a cohesive narrative. Arrange data points in a logical order that guides the viewer through the information and supports your conclusions.


  1. Overcomplicate: Avoid overly complex visuals that confuse rather than clarify. Stick to the essentials and avoid including too much detail.
  2. Misleading Visuals: Ensure your visuals accurately represent the data. Avoid distorting scales or using visuals that misrepresent the information.
  3. Information Overload: While visuals are powerful, don’t overload your presentation with too many graphs. Focus on a few key visuals that reinforce your message.
  4. Lack of Context: Always provide context for your visuals. Explain the significance of trends, comparisons, and patterns so that executives understand the implications.
Business graphs and magnifying glass on table

Illustrative Example:

Imagine you’re presenting revenue growth to your organization’s CFO. You decide to use a line chart to showcase quarterly revenue over the past year. The x-axis represents each quarter, while the y-axis shows the revenue amount in millions. You label each data point and include a clear title: “Quarterly Revenue Growth FY2023.” The line chart clearly demonstrates the consistent upward trajectory of revenue throughout the year.

By utilizing graphs and visuals effectively, you can transform raw data into a compelling narrative that resonates with executives. Remember, visuals should enhance your message, not replace it. Use them as powerful aids to bolster your verbal and written communication, ensuring that your results updates are not only impactful but also easily digestible for your audience.

Navigating Interactions with Senior Professionals

1. Show Respectful Confidence: When interacting with senior professionals, maintain respect while exuding confidence in your insights. Present your ideas with conviction, but remain open to feedback.

2. Gravitas: Gravitas, the air of dignity and authority, is crucial when dealing with senior leaders. Develop gravitas by building a strong professional presence, being well-prepared, and projecting poise.

3. Active Listening: Demonstrate your respect by actively listening to senior professionals. Engage in thoughtful conversations, ask relevant questions, and seek their perspective.

4. Value Their Time: Recognize that senior professionals have demanding schedules. Ensure your communication is concise, valuable, and aligned with their priorities.

5. Leverage Your Expertise: While respecting their experience, leverage your financial expertise to contribute meaningfully to discussions. Share insights that align with their strategic vision.

Remember, effective communication isn’t just about conveying information—it’s about fostering a collaborative and impactful exchange. As you progress through this lesson, keep in mind that the ability to communicate effectively with executives is an invaluable skill that transcends roles and experience levels. By mastering the art of communication, you’ll elevate your contributions and enhance your role in delivering results that matter.