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Business | Leadership & Communication

Lessons from an ICT strategy meeting veteran

30 Aug 2018, by Amy Sarcevic

When it comes to presenting in board and executive meetings, ISACA USA’s Tim Mason admits he has made every mistake in the book.

“Trust me when I say when I’ve graduated from the ‘school of hard knocks’”, says Tim, ahead of Oceania CACS 2018.

The ICT strategy meeting veteran says he took years to find his feet in what he describes as the ‘epitome of dread’ for most ICT governance professionals. But it was through this cumbersome trial and error process that he found ‘enlightenment’ and became a self-taught presenting expert.

Now, more than twenty years into his executive career, Tim – who holds a C-level position at ISACA USA – wishes to impart some of his wisdom, to ensure other ICT governance professionals have an easier ride to board and executive meeting success.

Tim, what was it about board and executive meetings that you found so challenging?

Put it this way, an audience of time-poor, hard-to-please C-levels won’t suffer your mistakes gladly. You’ll need your delivery to be informative, yet concise and compelling. The trouble is figuring out how to do that. Conveying complex analytics and technology concepts to an audience of disparate backgrounds requires skill and guts. It took me many years to master the art of it.

Can you give any examples of how you got it wrong?

Now, which should I pick? I guess one which stands out in my mind is a meeting in which I hadn’t fully prepared for all of my slides. I’d gone into significant detail for some of my key points and thought this would compensate for a lack of detail on others. It didn’t. What followed was an intense period of interrogation on the point I had attempted to skim over. To say I looked a fool is somewhat of an understatement.

Without giving too much away before Oceania CACS 2018, what are some of your key tips?

Start with the answer. Too often I made the mistake of explaining how I built the watch when all my audience really wanted to know was what time it was.

Also, avoid politician style answers. You need to remember that board members and executives are ultimately there to help you. If you get on the defence or polish your answers to the extent of inaccuracy, then you’ll lose out on that key element.

I’ve seen this happen in high-profile speeches, notably Mark Zuckerberg. When you’re preempting attack from your audience, you can misinterpret friendly feedback for harsh criticism, which will in turn prompt a knee-jerk, negative response. Change your outlook and see board meetings and executive meetings for what they really are – an opportunity to help progress the business. Everything else is white noise.

Gary Van Prooyen will present Tim Mason’s practical tips for board and executive meeting success at Australia’s premier ICT governance conference – Oceania CACS 2018.

Now in its fourth decade the event has firmly established itself as the leading event for industry knowledge and networking.

Learn more and register.


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