Jeremy Pepper did a fine job summaring a speech by Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd, delivered on Wednesday to the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) members present at the 2005 IABC International Conference in Washington, DC. You can read Jeremy’s summary, “Listening To Hurd,” on the IABC blog.

I added the following additional information, along with other comments.

Hurd spent a little time discussing his irritation that Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulation have forced CEOs in publicly traded companies to communicate information of a “material nature” (i.e., that could affect a company’s stock price)–such as top staffing changes–to the stockholders and Wall Street analysts before company employees. That’s because if the information leaks from within the corporation, it could result in penalties and liability.

One solution that Hurd mentioned is that he immediately walks from his analyst conference call meetings to an employee broadcast to relay the same information to employees. When he meets with employees, Hurd prefers a flipchart over a PowerPoint presentation. Explaining his low-tech preference for flipcharts, Hurd said he wants to answer employees’ questions, rather than push his viewpoints and opinions at them. Showing a PowerPoint presentation can send the message that, “I don’t know your question, but here’s the answer,” he said.

He also stated that when he came to H-P, he pushed his staff to rely on themselves, rather than consultants. He told his senior staff, “I pay you to have an opinion.” Those staff members need to “be crisp” in their presentations. Rather than watching 50-60 slides, he prefers a 1-page summary supplemented by a staffer’s verbal presentation. “You tell me the story because then I learn how you think,” he said.

Hurd expects to see corporations continue to invest in the Asian market, because corporations have a great amount of available cash to spend. H-P, for example, has $16 billion in available cash, with no debt, he said. As corporations look to invest, they need to be mindful of trade imbalances, he added, specifically mentioning China.

During Hurd’s Q&A following his speech at the IABC Conference, I told him about the discussion underway regarding the role of CEO communication versus supervisor communication, and asked for his view on what works in his organization. This is a fairly accurate quote from him.

“I don’t think that a CEO can replace the relationship of employees and their front-line supervisors,” Hurd said. “But the CEO can provide a context relative to the whole company, to try to create clarity around the mission.”

He later provided a supporting comment while answering a separate question when he said, “When I promote, demote, recognize and reward people, I tell 30,000 people what I value.” That is the essence of the CEO’s influence.