Wednesday, 11 March 2015

What do they Really Want to Know? - Pressures and Priorities

Previously I was talking about the pressures that senior management may face and it would be true to say that most of the pressures on managers originate from their own superiors, who are possibly even more pressed for time and even less technically literate than they are.

In order to keep superiors happy your boss probably has to juggle a conflicting set of priorities and won’t react well to you trying to redefine them.

So don't, for example, spend a lot of time explaining how important the conclusions of your report are. What is deeply important to you may be of only marginal interest to him.

Most of us have what I will refer to as a "domain of competent understanding". For example, you may have detailed knowledge of how a particular application works, or how to configure a Windows network, or how to tune an Oracle database. Only very rare individuals will have all these skills (or more).

Your boss's domain of competent understanding is unlikely to include your own domain as a subset so this means that unless you are careful, you could overwhelm your target audience with information that they are not capable of relating to.

The defence reaction of someone who is overwhelmed by the contents of a report is usually to latch on to some relatively minor ambiguity or inconsistency in an effort to discredit the whole.
Don't fall into the trap of making this possible.

Establish a bond of trust. Emotionally, your audience needs to trust what you are telling them and they will do this much more readily if you make your presentation in terms that they can understand.

They need to trust you because they may subsequently need to pass the relevant information up to a higher level, and only the very brave, or the foolhardy, will stake their reputation or credibility on anything that they don't fully understand. This is especially true if the information that you are trying to convey has significant financial implications.

Therefore, you need to organise your material in such a way that the audience is psychologically capable of trusting it.

On Friday I’ll go through some guidelines for delivering a trustworthy presentation, in the meantime sign up and come along to our next webinar Essential Reporting for Capacity and Performance management

Rich Fronheiser
Chief Marketing Officer

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