For Heads of Product Delivery, Development Managers, Heads of Engineering, Heads of Research and anyone who has been shut down in a meeting by their execs.
You are in a meeting with the rest of the senior executive team and the CEO announced that you will deliver XYZ by 2020. The vision and strategy sound nice, but you’re wondering: “how are we going to deliver it when we are stretched already?”.
Whether you are pitching internally (an idea to your team, boss or board), or pitching externally (to win a contract or investment), your audiences’ brain will prevent them from saying “YES”, unless they feel your conclusion makes them feel safe to act.
Here are 3 reasons why your pitch failed:
Your leader asks you to give "an update to the new team" or "share with us what you've been working on". You are told you have 20 minutes and yet they interrupt you just after 5. In fact, their question is answered later on in your 20 Min presentation - on slide 17.
Have you run a meeting where you were going to agree the next 5 steps in the project with your engineers?
10-15 minutes into the meeting it quickly veered off track, the engineers dived into specific technical details and you finished without agreeing the 5 steps?
Have you been in a meeting when a man interrupted or stopped you talking by putting his hand up towards you / your face?
Did you feel so shocked, you stopped talking and let them take over?
Did you beat yourself up later for letting him do this and not standing your ground?
Are you an auditor who has to give bad news to Executives about the risks you uncovered in their work?
Do you find that despite your fair assessment, they sometimes reject your audit findings and the meeting ends up being confrontational?
The traditional advice on networking is “talk to as many people as possible and gather as many business cards as you possibly can in the shortest amount of time”.
I am an extrovert and I played that card for many years – for me this is fun and it fills me with energy, but it does not necessarily create deep meaningful work relationships. Plus, if the scenario above feels like your worst nightmare, it’s probably because you may be an introvert.
You have done your speech, you have practised it many times and you know what body language and vocal variety you will use at different stages in your speech. But what about what happens after the speech, in the Questions and Answers session? How to you deal with difficult questions from the audience? Here are a few things you need to know in order to have a successful Q&A session:
I don't like to get political. Simply from a learning perspective, here is a step-by-step breakdown of how the NRA spokeswoman tries to influence a teen during Q&A on national TV. The technique the NRA spokeswoman is using in a very, very, very crafty way of employing this bridging communication technique step by step (watch the video and you can follow the structure below to the letter):
Here's a typical example of the elevator pitch from Simon Sinek, a leadership guru in the USA that many law firms have taken on board as the example to follow. In the video, Simon says that, at a networking event, someone pushed him next to the CEO of a corporation without introducing him. When the CEO asked, “who are you?” Simon responded with: “I wake up every single day to inspire people to do what inspires them” and this made the prospect interested to become a client. I want to explain why this approach would not work in the UK and give you an idea of what would work instead.
Are you that person who doesn’t say anything in meetings? Do you keep thinking “I should say it” but your confidence stops you? Perhaps you finally said it, and then immediately someone asks you: “Why” or “How” – now you’re really frozen! If your mind goes blank when someone asks you a question after you said something in a meeting, if this is perhaps the very reason why you don’t usually speak up, you’re not alone!
If customers start to micro-manage your project it means they have lost faith in your ability to deliver the project on time and they do not trust any timelines you give them.
There are 3 ways you can re-gain customer trust:
If you are in a meeting with customers which has spiralled out of control after you gave them bad news (such as: “the project will have to be delayed by 6 months”, or “technically we cannot deliver the product with the exact spec you wanted but here are some alternative ways of achieving the same thing”) here are some ways to bring the meeting back on track:
Humans' brains are biologically wired to perceive "you're wrong" as a threat, so the only responses you're going to get from telling someone "you're wrong" are: fight, flight or freeze. None of these responses help people understand they are wrong. The short answer is:
An engineer said to me last month: "I want you to teach me how to get my idea to sell itself, so I don't have to do it". The only way an idea sells itself is if it is constructed in response to a very clear need the audience has or in response to an existing perspective of the audience. The saying: "this idea will sell itself" somehow gave people the impression they don't have to sell it.
You are looking at introducing a culture change. You wonder: "How do I get engineers' buy-in and participation?" You don't want this to be "just another initiative" engineers reject, here's a step by step process that increases your chances of success:
Have you presented a new initiative and felt bombarded with questions before you finished? Perhaps you started to feel hostile towards this "know it all" who didn't let you get your points across? How can you respond in this situation and regain control of the presentation?
Have you conveyed problems during a project update to your Senior Executive?
Did the meeting become confrontational and you felt your work was torn apart in the meeting?
Did you panic and leave the meeting wondering what you should do next?