Magazine article Risk Management

Closing Pitcher

Magazine article Risk Management

Closing Pitcher

Article excerpt

Is your risk management message getting across to senior management? Seal the deal with the right delivery.

A true story: The risk manager swallowed hard. He stood before the general counsel of his company, a global giant. He was there to argue that the company had significantly underinvested in crisis preparation. He had a list of recommendations and a forty-five-minute PowerPoint presentation, but when his time was cut to fifteen minutes, he frantically flipped through the slides. As the general manager's lips compressed into a thin line, the risk manager turned away from his audience and focused on the screen.

You can guess the outcome. The risk manager failed to persuade the executives to support the investment. Worse, the general counsel's opinion of the risk manager sank several notches and it never recovered.

He thought he would be judged on his mastery of insurance policies, claims processes and regulations, and his ability to deal with brokers and negotiate prices. Today, however, to do a job successfully, every company employee needs to master that most important skill: communication.

Personal Style

Traditional presentation skills focus on the elements of style: eye contact, facial expression, hand gestures, body language and vocal quality. The risk manager in our example failed on all accounts. He stared at the projector screen. His face, voice, hands and body displayed anxiety.

Fortunately, awareness and practice can cure all these issues, improving your personal communication skills in both stand-up presentations and less formal situations. Consider, for example, how television has affected communication. It is a personal medium, and we have gotten used to the prolonged eye contact of the TV announcer. Thus if you use the old school method of "scanning the audience" it will make you, the speaker, look shifty eyed. Instead, imagine that you are talking to each person in a Q&A, just as if each was specifically asking a question. The intimate connection will make each person attending the meeting feel involved.

Visual Aids

PowerPoint, which can be a powerful way to drive a point home, also locks you into a linear presentation. If you do use PowerPoint, you must be fluid enough to rework it in the middle of the presentation, the way you would have skipped through overhead transparencies a decade ago. …

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