A common question people ask is, "Who should I focus on in a presentation: the key decision maker or everyone else in the room?" I suggest you look no further than the recent presidential election for the answer.
Political preferences aside, it is generally agreed that one reason Hillary lost the election is that her assumptions were wrong. To follow our analogy, she concentrated her campaign on the big “Decision Makers” in California and elsewhere and less time campaigning in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida, where her “intel” assumed she was solid. Obviously, that strategy was a mistake.
Similarly, in presentations, a natural tendency is to identify the decision-makers beforehand and then focus remarks solely on them. That can also be risky strategy. Your “intel” may tell you who the Decision Makers are who can say “yes,” but you never really know who can influence a “no” after you leave the room.
That is why you want as many people as possible on your side!
How do you do that?
Use Eye Contact Strategically
Focus on everyone in the meeting. If they are there, they have a stake, and a voice, however small, in what’s happening and deserve to be recognized as such.
- For implications and benefits related to growth outcomes, look at senior management.
- For implications and benefits related to costs and ROI, look at financial management.
- For implications related to implementation, look at tech, admin, support people.
Eye contact only with senior management quickly looks like pandering. Ignoring others in the room insults their sense of importance and ultimately alienates them.
Whatever you sell, if it is new to the organization, department, or team, you are battling existing systems, traditions, beliefs, relationships and politics. Moreover, the more complex the sale, the more likely it is to affect many stakeholders, each with his/her own agendas, interests, concerns, and needs.
Therefore, play it safe and smart. Be exclusive in your offer, but inclusive in your delivery, so everyone feels recognized, understood, supported, and comfortable with a decision in your favor.
Words Matter – Make What You Say Pay!
Interesting article by award winning lawyer Mitch Jackson: How to Tell if Someone is Lying http://mitchjackson.com/lying/
Did you miss this article?
My latest post on LinkedIn explores three levels of metaphors you can use when you need to sell, influence, persuade, or explain anything to anyone.
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"Anne and I recently worked together on a speech I gave at a large conference. She helped me turn a series of somewhat interesting points into an expertly crafted, compelling and actionable story. Together, we built a storyline with attention-grabbing headlines. We worked and re-worked the language, making sure every word was important. Finally, Anne coached me on the delivery. The result was so exciting - I've never been so well received in a speech before. Thank you, Anne!" Kate Griffin, Vice President, CFED.org
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