Speak It Before You Speak It
This morning I had a very important work meeting. It involved five people including my Boss, a counterpart in my same organization, her boss and the Big Boss of us all.
My counterpart runs a team that works very hard but she and I have arrived at cross purposes over a large project in a large country in Asia.
So she and I agreed to have a meeting with Big Boss and let him decide which way to go with this.
I got the task of setting up the meeting and presenting the situation since I’m the one asking for big changes around here.
Fair enough. I planned ahead on this. I wrote up my meeting notes, sent them around for review/comment then chatted with my direct BossMan about the project and how he wanted me to frame the conversation.
This morning, I was feeling pretty nervous. This meeting represented a big turn in a huge project, and the success of both me personally and my team.
I knew my stuff and I knew what I wanted to say. However, on this year’s performance review, my boss detailed an area for improvement.
Long story short, when talking to executives, he wants me to get to the point. I’m a writer, a storyteller at heart so I want to set up the scene, fill it with the drama, bring around resolution and denouement then leave it with a complete ending.
BossMan essentially told me to knock it off. “Speak in conclusions” is the latest business buzz phrase.
So as I drove to work this morning I started running through in my mind how I could present this very essential issue along with my counter-argument to my coworker’s case (which is quite legitimate), and manage to come away a winner.
Wanna know what I did? I practiced. Yup. I got to work a bit early, and I got up on my feet and I practiced aloud what I wanted to say. I spent about twenty minutes running through my story, editing it down, getting to the “here’s what I want from this meeting.”
When the time came to get on the phone, I felt pretty confident. I presented my case in a very crisp manner. My coworker presented her side too, but it was a bit rambling and I think she and her direct boss weren’t on the same page.
In the end, Big Boss came down on my side of the decision. Afterward my direct BossMan told me I’d done a good job.
Practice. Aloud. Such a simple answer that makes such a difference.
I always practice before a full on presentation, but I often forget to do a run through before a key meeting like this. It helped. A lot. I looked like I had my business together.
By the time the hour long phone call was over, it was 9:00am, I had sweated through the armpits of my shirt and I needed shot of tequila. And then another.
But by god I got ‘er done.
Image from UAB School of Engineering website.