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Exceeding the time limit for a short presentation

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in Workplace Communication

Q. In a recent meeting with my company’s CEO, I was among the managers asked to make a five-minute presentation on my unit’s progress. I was nervous and wound up talking for about 15 minutes. I spoke fast and packed in a lot of important information—it’s not like I was babbling to kill time.

The next day, the CEO sent me a short memo. “In the future, be sensitive about other people’s time,” he wrote. I’m furious. He could have talked to me about going on too long, but instead he writes a mean memo. What should I do?

A. Don’t sweat it. Sure, it’s upsetting when a boss expresses displeasure in a cold, harsh memo rather than discussing it face to face. But blowing it out of proportion won’t help. The message is what matters. Treat it as a wake-up call.

If you want to get ahead, you have to think and act like a CEO. That means keeping your presentations within their allotted time and making sure your memos are lean and to the point.

A larger problem is if your CEO loses faith in your overall abilities, as opposed to finding fault with you on details. Hopefully, you have an immediate boss who recognizes your value and who can periodically remind the CEO of your talents.

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