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Understand Me 4 - Who are they?
At this point, you know what your audience Knows and what the Need to know. You've got a handle on their Opinion and remember that they need to be right, and they need to belong and you will be encouraging their positive self-image. But you recall the saying it's not what you know but who you know? In this section we'll cover:
1. Stakeholder Mapping
2. Action Types
Stakeholder or audience mapping uses a simple 2x2 matrix with Low to high power on the vertical axis and low to high interest across the horizontal.
Consider the specific individual members of your audience and place them on the grid relative to each other. Include, where appropriate, stakeholders who might not be personally present but sending a representative (aka spy).
Your focus in your presentation are those individuals who are most interested in your topic and have the power to affect the change you desire.
When you are preparing a sales presentation, for example, it pays to know who is the key decision maker (powerful) and the most interested. Not always the same person! I often find myself presenting to greatly interested people with little power and the person with the actual power isn't even in the room. I think of this as a gatekeeping presentation and once through the gate, I have a chance to pitch to the person with the power.
When you have a clear idea about the power and interest in the room, it's time to establish how you call the four different audience types to action.
Nancy Duarte says that there are four audience types, each requiring a slightly different call to action:
Doers, Suppliers, Influencers and Innovators.
- A Doer is someone who instigates activities. You should ask them to assemble, make decisions, gather, respond or attempt.
- A Supplier is a person who controls resources. Ask them to acquire, fund, support or provide resources.
- Influencers change perceptions. Ask them to activate, convert, empower or promote.
- Innovators generate ideas to add value to and spread your ideas. Ask them to create, discover, invent or pioneer.
How do you call to action if you don't know their type?
Intuitively you can see that these four audience types make sense. When you know your audience well and have experienced presenting to them before, it's relatively easy to pin them down to a particular type. But there will be times when you don't know them well enough. In such a situation, make sure to sow those key action verbs throughout your presentation noting who responds to each, usually shown through greater attentiveness, a smile, a nod or simply paying attention. Note also any of the verbs that appear to fall on deaf ears, you might not, for example, have any innovators in the room.
Above all, be sure to establish the audience type for the most powerful interested stakeholder and focus on getting the right call to action to them.
Of course, all of this is moot if you don't actually have a call to action
Your call to action for this episode is to identify your audience, map them on a simple power/interest grid and work out, if you can, their audience type.
I use post-its on a whiteboard (Here's my Blank Miro Template you can use) to help me in planning. And once I have identified the key stakeholders (high power and high interest) I take a little longer to get to find out what they know, and specifically what they need to know and take a little extra effort to understand their opinion and create a call to action that will activate them to fund the resources we need to make the change they need.
On that template, you’ll also map your Trust and Respect Matrix actions.
Understand Me 3 - What is their Opinion?
I didn't recognise the number but I was expecting a call and thus began another 5 minute rude interruption.
We all get them. We all hate them. And yet companies persist in using telemarketing and tired sales scripts.
This one was especially bad. It was someone trying to sell me a meeting arrangement service using LinkedIn. Essentially, they would trawl LinkedIn for (their words) "hot" prospects and arrange a meeting with them for me.
I wasn't interested and informed them. But this one was persistent and was unwilling to let me escape. On and on she talked. Didn't want to know anything at all about me, my needs, my business, my opinion on cold call telemarketing, anything about me at all. She was interested in getting through her script presumably to earn a pay check.
I gave up being polite and cut the call.
I have often wondered if any of such calls ever achieve their goal.
I have yet to meet anyone who relishes receiving these cold calls. Purely speculative, scatter gun. And yet, so many of my clients complain of meetings and presentations that they willingly attend where the presenter is concerned only with getting through their script, in spite of the audience's wants, needs opinions and preferences.
OK, perhaps "willingly" is a stretch. Grudgingly, then.
In the previous sections, we discussed what your audience already Knows and what they Need to know. And how you, as the communicator, need to make sure that you identify your 10% that they really must take away.
This time, we are looking at the audience's Opinion and Who they are
What is their Opinion?
I worked for a client a little recently where the Country manager was having problems with the local leadership team. Technically, the individuals were all brilliant and excellent, they just didn't get along together very well. There was quite a bit of power play going on and inter-department blaming and rivalry was rife. Essentially, they weren't playing well together, and like a football team that doesn't support each other well, they were getting thrashed by the competition.
As is often the case in such situations, the team members thought rather negatively about "this soft, fluffy stuff" and that the problem lay with the company's processes and other departments, not their team and certainly not something any coach could fix. They weren't quite ready to instantly change their behaviour... well at least until the other party admitted that they were wrong and changed first.
And sometimes it is personal. It's not your role they disagree with, it's you. In these politically correct days nobody says what they think, but they sure do think it. Maybe they prefer a female, maybe you need to be Asian to understand the local culture. Maybe you should be an engineer. Maybe the way you dress is deemed as threatening.
Even with a non-hostile audience, you want to know what they think about you and your topic before deciding how to approach your presentation.
What do they think of you and your topic?
I was enjoying my new position installing computerised tills and stock control systems throughout the central London pub estate for Chef and Brewer. My boss was a great guy and everything was going brilliantly well until he got replaced by an arrogant, opinionated know-it-all, who, quite frankly, understood nothing about computerisation and worse, hated the idea of it. This was the late 1980's and my new boss was determined to halt the technological advance at all costs.
Within a month I felt like Sisyphus. Pushing the computerisation agenda up an increasingly steep hill and soon to be crushed by the backlash.
I hadn't had time to build any real influence nor win any significant political allies in the organisation and my colleagues soon joined my new boss in undermining and stalling progress. My personal credibility hadn't been established securely enough and without it, I was going t
Understand Me - What do they Need to know?
Have you ever sat in a presentation and successfully listened to everything that the speaker shared, remembered what was essential and acted on the information whilst simultaneously fielding emails, carrying out a chat message and planning lunch and all before a really important client meeting.
OK, now in this very short space of time, what do you remember? Not a lot huh?
You just experienced cognitive overload. And that was just thinking about those 5 things happening in theory.
"That went right over my head!
Cognitive overload is more common than you might realise.
Cognitive overload occurs when your brain is being tasked with too many things at once or you are trying to process too much information. It happens when you use too much mental effort in your brains working memory to continue effective processing. You may well feel that the words flew over your head. You stopped taking any more information in and tried to clear the backlog.
It is also remarkably common. A leader does a data dump of the facts and figures for the quarterly report, a manager relates every little detail of a problem and the presenter rushes through the material either because their time has been reduced or they've taken too long over the early part.
Specifically, what does your audience need to know? And I do mean need as an absolute
New and Knew
One way to help your audience understand is to relate something that they already do know with the new information that you are sharing.
New information triggers curiosity, which is something you want to do. But if everything is new, you'll trip over the edge of curiosity into anxiety. And anxiety is something we don't want.
Filling your presentation with all things new is like opening photoshop for the first time and being presented with all 300 icons on the taskbar. Or like visiting a strange city for the first time. It's overwhelming. Sure, you'll find your way around eventually, but it takes time.
You see what I did there?
I related the situation (new knowledge for you) to something that you know already - either you'll know about photoshop and the vast number of icons or you'll have experienced visiting a strange city. And even if not exactly aligned with your knowledge, the two examples provide adequate common experience for you to relate to, or imagine.
And that's just what you need to do with new information. Align it with something your audience knows already by using examples, metaphors or analogies.
And remember, you only want to include new information if it is something that your audience needs to know. It is not so that you can show how knowledgable and brilliant you are.
On top of this, your audience is likely to find 90% of your presentation as forgetable. So what do you really want them to remember?
Dr Carmen Simon, author of Impossible to Ignore, a neuroscientist and expert in making your content memorable, shares some bad news that your audience typically remembers just 10% of your presentation content. Worse news is the 10% remembered by one person differs from the 10% another person remembers.
The 10% that you really want them to remember needs to be identified and then you are going to take control of what they remember. You can do that by noting:
- What you want your audience to remember - 3 or 4 points, and
- What you want your audience to do (your Product or call to action)
Now we are clear what our audience knows already, making certain that we recognise our own curse of knowledge and taking care with our assumptions. We are also clear about what they need to know, avoiding cognitive overload, aligning the new with the knew and identifying the 10% of our content that is essential. But do they care at all? We need to understand the audience's opinion.
Let's wrap here for now and prepare you for the next part: Opinion.
In the next section we'll talk about Opinion and then g
Understand Me 2 - What do the Know?
What do they Know?
Let's start with asking what do your audience already know about you and your topic?
There are two extreme dangers here:
1. Assumptions and
2. The Curse of Knowledge
You see I carry a curse. A curse of knowledge. Just as you do:
The Curse of Knowledge!
I attended a networking event recently where someone was sharing about Bitcoin.
"Bitcoin is a type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used in a blockchain to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank."
Yes, but what is it?
I don't fully understand Bitcoin. I don't get how you "mine" them and I don't appreciate how they can be worth more than $10,000. And I'm a geek!
I feel utterly stupid when someone who does know, speaks down to me as if I really should know and it turns into a crushing sense of hopelessness.And that's not a great place for your audience to be.
jill and colleagues peering into empty skull.png
When someone assumes that you should know something and you just do not. They look at you as if peering into your emptyheadedness with disdain.
Sure, I'm biased and think of Bitcoin as eTulips and a bubble that will hurt a lot of innocent people, but I'll come back to bias when we discuss the audience Opinion.
I know quite a lot. But I don't know Bitcoin, Blockchain, Etherium and now I've heard that there's one based on organic bananas.
My knowledge may be similar or utterly different to your own. You have your jargon, and I have mine. The only time we have a real problem is when my jargon makes no sense to you. When I assume that something I know is common knowledge.
Tappers and Listeners
Here's a terrific little experiment that you can do later today with a friend or family member to truly understand the curse of knowledge.
Firstly I shall tap out a very well known song - this of course only works well if you are listening to the podcast, if you're reading this, it doesn't work :-)
I'll tap out this well known song and you guess what it is.
If you were to ask someone to do this and estimate how quickly people would guess the song title correctly, you might guess at the commonly agreed 20 or 30 seconds. And the real answer is that roughly one person in 20 will guess correctly and that after 3 repeats. - and those are usually "lucky guesses".
So, you try this with a friend or colleague. Tap out "Happy Birthday". Oh, well now, of course, you recognise the tapping. It's easy now. Because now, the tune is humming in your head AND you hear the tapping in time. Previously, you only heard tapping.
The problem is that I cannot unknow what I know - it is humming along in my head as I share. I cannot remember what it is like to not know what I know. And of course, I think what I know is easy. It would have to be easy if I know it. But maybe, just maybe, it is not as easy or obvious as I think that it is. Just like Happy Birthday ain't so obvious when all you hear are tap tap tap tap tap tap. (Interesting by the way, now that you know that it is Happy Birthday, you heard it immediately!)
And when someone does not know something (especially something that colleagues appear to know), they may feel intimidated and that may just shut down their attention and choose the ostrich manoeveur, or worse, they may get defensive and disrupt your presentation by heckling.
To avoid making bad assumptions and the curse of knowledge, you must find out what your audience already knows. And a terrific way to do that is to ask questions.
Understand Me - Getting to KNOW Your Audience
If there's one complaint I hear about a leader’s skills from their boss or their HR, it's that they don't adjust their communication for their audience. And yet those leaders genuinely believe that they do adjust for their audience.
So who is right? Well, they're both correct of course. The presenter thinks they are adjusting but they don't really KNOW their audience.
What about the audience themselves? What do they think? Sadly the audience don't have an opinion because they stopped paying attention and moved onto other, more exciting things like thinking about lunch or updating Facebook.
To capture their attention and motivate them to act, you have to get to KNOW your audience
If you want to capture the attention of your audience and take some sort of action as a result of your Communication , you need to get to KNOW your audience and present to them as if it were tailored exclusively and entirely just for them. Because you will have done just that.
Below, I share how you get to KNOW your audience so that you capture their attention and motivate them to do the things that you want them to do. You can take it one step at a time
But first, let me introduce you to a oft-practiced technique that is guaranteed to do the opposite of knowing and engaging your audience:
The Ostrich Manoeuvre
Politicians are especially good at this manoeuvre. Be sure to look down at your notes most of the time and read the speech prepared by some flunky in a monotone. Remember to look up at any random audience member and plaster a fake smile on your face.
I am really an introverted person. Maybe you don't believe that because you've seen me run a workshop or speak at a conference. But when I first started out, I was terrified that I was going to look like an idiot, that I would forget my words, lose track and generally do a terrible job. So I adopted what I call the Ostrich Manoeveur, a technique that essentially guaranteed that I would successfully look like an idiot, forget my words, lose track and do a terrible job.
The Ostrich Manoeuvre is a favourite of insincere politicians and leaders, frequently seen in after-dinner speeches and boardrooms. It is very easy 2 step process and it is guaranteed to make you look really bad.
1. First, please make sure that you stand behind a podium and place your written script on it. If there is no podium available, then turn your back to the audience and read your slides instead.
2. Step 2 is read your script, preferably in a monotone and rarely, if ever, make eye contact with your audience.
This works brilliantly well to show your audience that you do not know your content well enough. That you don't practice because the audience doesn't deserve your effort. And it shows the audience that you could care less who they are, what matters to them or even if you are in the right venue.
You will have seen someone using the Ostrich Manoeveur as long ago as yesterday. Perhaps you used it yourself. I understand, I much preferred to read a script than dare look at the audience and witness the devastating effect my appalling presentation was having on them.
The better you KNOW your audience the better you can engage them
If instead, you would like to engage your audience and make an impact then it will greatly help if you KNOW your audience, that is: be able to fully answer four key questions:
1. What and how much do the Know already?
2. What do they Need to know?
3. What is their Opinion?
4. And, Who are they?
You'll notice that the keywords here make up the KNOW acronym: Know, Need, Opinion and Who.
Easy to remember.
Coaching is About Change
“There are no such things as wrong turns, Only paths we never knew we were supposed to take.” Proverb
AdvantEdge Coaching is about change
“Change is the only constant” goes the refrain. There would be little need for coaching, training, mentoring, counselling or any development if people were happy to stay the same as they are now.
Being coached by someone is all about being empowered, equipped and enabled to change. Coaching empowers people to find new jobs, work through transitions, enhance performance, build better relationships, make wise decisions, transform organisations and reach new spiritual levels. Coaching is about establishing a vision of the future and reaching goals. When coaching is successful, it’s about bringing and maintaining change.
But coaching is more. We also help people determine what needs to stay the same in times of constant flux. We encourage our clients to stake out their core values, established strengths, basic beliefs, ethical principles and lasting relationships that remain firm and provide an anchor to their lives.
Coaches are both change agents and constant agents. Coaches help people see what needs to change and what needs to remain constant.
Change is difficult!
Let’s start by recognising the obvious: change is difficult. Going on a journey with people through change can be challenging and exhausting. Bringing sustainable change is even harder. Most people resist change even when they see the need and believe it can occur.
The owner of the first hotel I managed was just 40 when he suffered a heart attack. His lifestyle, booze, food and a lack of regular exercise were contributory factors but prior to the heart attack, there were no significant symptoms. Life was good, then BAM! He was on the floor in agony. He survived. His doctor told him bluntly that he had to change his diet, give up alcohol, smoking and take up regular exercise. Change or die! A stark choice. And one that many people face. Initially, my boss came out of hospital ready and eager to take this advice seriously and changed everything that was harming his health. It wasn’t easy for him, but he stuck with it and now enjoys a slim, healthy life retired and sailing around the Mediterranean.
Yet, in the US alone, some 90% of heart bypass patients can’t change their lifestyles, even at the risk of dying. It’s not surprising then that changing people’s behaviour in business is a challenge.
How people face change
People respond to change typically in four different ways depending on their personalities and past experiences:
- Innovators – who value change and often try to make it happen.
- Embracers – who thrive on change and accept it with enthusiasm, sometimes without thinking too much about it.
- Acceptors – who initially resist change but eventually go along with it because there is no alternative.
- Resisters – who may not even notice the change, deliberately ignore it or be so overwhelmed that they push it out of their awareness. Some even deny any need for change and refuse to budge an inch.
People usually lean towards one of these responses. There’s some excellent news, though: simply because you are reading this, you are likely to be an innovator or embracer. If you are reading this reluctantly, you’re an acceptor. And those who aren’t reading this well, they’re the resisters (but, of course, they won’t know that because they didn’t read it!).
New & Noteworthy
Found this podcast in the New & Noteworthy section, so this is definitely a show you want to keep your eye on. Keep up the great work, John.
Really enjoyed the episode on the importance of taking breaks as we learn.
Sometimes we try to cram too much in and it was really helpful to k ow that there are scientific reasons why we need to good off for a few minutes :)
Love the music too, John's accent, and being able to feel his passion for his topic come through.