How to Get a Busy Boss to Listen

By Marsha Petrie Sue, MBA

The approach to get a busy boss to listen to you is the same as planning a presentation or written article.  You need a ‘hook’ to gain immediate interest. It doesn’t matter if you are new employee, a rising star or an executive wanting to discuss plans with your boss.  Make it about making money or saving time and your chances are better to get their attention.

Determine what is important on their plate now. Get that juicy starter and explain what they want to talk about. Send it out with an email, voice mail and a text message.

“It looks like our project will increase revenue even more than we thought. There are some strategic decisions needing to be discussed. I need 10 minutes. Is this week or next best for you?”

Think small sound bites. Be ready for the meeting and create a mental agenda, including your hook. Try to stay with three key points in your message.  End with what you want them to do think or feel. I’ve used a model for this for years.  If you would like a copy just email me at

Other thoughts:

  • Pull all of the emotion out of your delivery.
  • Stay on target, even if they try to pull you off. “Yes that is important. I need to use this time to make sure I have your valuable information so I can take action.”
  • Keep it short and sweet. Eliminate long stories, drawn out explanations and other verbiage they probably don’t care about!
  • Sit on the edge of the chair and smile. I know, simple and needs to be mentioned.
  • Have a half page ‘Executive Summary.’ Here is a good article on how to put one together from Inc. Magazine. You will know if this is the right approach.
  • Bring one page of data, not a PowerPoint and a ream of paper.
  • Know their communication style. Are they structured, bottom line, personal or celebratory oriented then flex your style to theirs.
  • Give them time to respond by asking questions. Listen very carefully to their answer and take notes.
  • Don’t extend the meeting past the set appointment time unless they invite you to continue the conversation.
  • Set a next meeting right then if appropriate.
  • End with a gracious thank you. This may be difficult if you did not receive the information you wanted.
  • Send a quick thank you note (text, email, VM is fine) mentioning the action being taken because of the meeting.


If you have a busy boss, try this approach. Do you have any other approaches that work?  Would love to hear them.

Cheers, Marsha

Be sure to like me on FaceBook

Need information on booking Marsha for your next event? Please contact Marcia Snow, Business Manager for Marsha, and she help you tailor a presentation just for your group.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *