How to keep your board on topic

How to keep your board on topic

Has this happened to you?

You have an important presentation to make to a senior leadership group and a big chunk of the time is spent talking about ‘background’.

The leaders ask every question under the sun about the history of the program, what you have done in the past and you find yourself repeating your last five presentations.

You use precious face time with them looking backwards rather than looking forwards.

This has been a hot topic with my clients lately so I thought I'd share my number one strategy for avoiding this conundrum.

Here it is: Get straight to the point to make your audience curious about what you want to discuss.

There is a tendency to assume that leaders need all of the detail so they can understand your main point.

In my experience this has the opposite effect. Leaders don't know how these ideas are relevant and so interrupt with questions that seek clarification.

Instead, I encourage my clients to introduce their main message very early in the communication.

This then makes your audience curious about the things you want to discuss, rather than setting them up to take you on a guided rabbit hole tour.

When done well, this sets your audience up to ask questions that invite you to provide the necessary background information.

It puts it in the right context, lifts the quality of the discussion and reduces the risk that you will be sent back with more questions rather than the decision you need.

I hope that helps. More next soon.

Kind regards,

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How to build trust with your senior leaders

How to build trust with your senior leaders

TLDR: The answer is to provide less information and more insight around a specific point of view.

Do you ever worry about a lack of trust between you and your senior folk? Perhaps these are the sorts of things that happen when you present?

  • You receive more questions than answers, with the worst of these meetings feeling more like an inquisition than a conversation.
  • The discussion gets lost in rabbit holes than focusing on the main game.
  • You leave meetings without the clarity and decisions you need to get on with delivering value.

It is easy to feel that these behaviours point to a lack of trust.

While that may be true, the real question is what to do about it.

In my experience, the best solution is to avoid requests for more information by providing greater insight in the first place. Here’s how.

  • Take the time to understand what you really need to provide to the leaders in that specific interaction to drive progress. This requires deep thought about your commercial reality as well as about your stakeholders.
  • Focus every communication around one single powerful point of view, no matter how complex the material. If you can't say it in a sentence, you aren't ready to convey it.
  • Declutter your communication by only including items that support that point of view. This will be a forcing device to confirm your point of view is the right one and that you are focusing on what together you must deliver for the organisation.

This requires not only courage, but extreme clarity about what is really needed to get the outcome you need to drive progress.

Learn more about how to go about this by:

 I hope that helps, more soon.


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When NOT to seek strategy approval

When NOT to seek strategy approval

How often do you outline your desired outcome as follows:

I want the Board to approve my ABC strategy?

While this is a good place to start and most likely true in the general sense, it’s not sufficient.

A general statement like this does not set you up to truly understand your audience’s issues and concerns.

This in turn does not set you up to tell a story that resonates.

Instead, I encourage you to be more specific so you flush out the issues that you must address to get your strategy across the line. Here are the questions I ask:

  1. Strategy: What is distinctive about this strategy and its implementation?
  2. Situation around the strategy: Where does this strategy ‘sit’ within the broader organisation and industry ecosystem?
  3. Stakeholder attitudes: How will stakeholder histories and hot buttons impact your ability to ‘sell’ the strategy?

Answering these questions will help you define a much more nuanced ‘purpose’ that will in turn set you up to prepare a communication that gets you the outcome you need.

I hope that helps and look forward to having more ideas for you after the Christmas break.

Kind regards,

PS – For deeper insight into what sits inside each of these questions as well as how and when to use them, register for the Clarity Hub.