Speak So All Client Types Hear You
As you know there are all personality types and all kinds of different thinkers. I have learned about a fantastic system that allows us to engage with everyone from the CEO to the technical procurement person and I believe that it works in all communications – even our ads.
The idea is to work in this order from top to bottom so you engage with the fast thinking, short attention span CEO types first and give them the big picture outline. Without this they’ll cut you down and you wont have the opportunity to get into the details that you need to.
What you’re communicating: Be clear on what the purpose of your conversation or meeting is. What’s the expected outcome?
Who is this for?: This is for everyone really. They wont engage with you if you don’t make it clear why there are there.
What you’re communicating: Talk about why your listener needs to hear this. What’s in it for them? Why will it benefit them? Why will it benefit anyone? This puts meaning into the presentation.
Who is this for?: This is for the big picture thinkers which includes the CEO types, the dominant, strong, fast thinking, sometimes aggressive (that’s in the sense of strength and not always a negative). They have a very short attention span and evaluate the value of the discussion very quickly. Get this up front before you lose them.
What you’re communicating: This is where you define the structure of your proposal, campaign or point. Any definitions, big picture over-riding ideas, the principals that guide the work you’re presenting. This puts some context into your presentation.
Who is this for?: This is for the big picture thinkers which includes the CEO types and also those social, extrovert, connectors who often fill sales roles or end up account directors. Both groups have a short attention span and they’re less likely to get into details unless they know where they fit and the context. These thinkers are often multi-taskers and once you plant the over-riding seed they’ll be able to jump start their idea generating as you unfold the rest of your presentation.
What you’re communicating: This is where you get into the details of your proposal, the details of a case study, the ‘How to’ of your presentation. You will be presenting individual executions of the over-riding concept you’ve previously presented. You can afford to drill into the detail and as often as possible refer back the ‘Why?’ so you keep your big picture thinkers on track. This puts some skills thinking into your presentation.
Who is this for?: This is for the detail and often more linear thinkers. They love detail and they love to know how it all works. These people often fill roles like marketing brand managers, account managers, accountants, project managers and roles that are all about getting things done. They’re often good at following a set of rules or instructions and are focused on implementation.
5. What If?
What you’re communicating: Here is where you advance consider all possible objections and raise solutions to those issues. You show that you have thought this all through and that you have solutions to the expected problems. If you expect your client to have a problem with a certain aspect then raise it before they do. Here a lot of questions are raised and discussed and you’ll have a chance to resolve all of them. This puts some qualifying into your presentation.
Who is this for?: This is for the conscientious types who are great at picking holes in the details and proofing everything. They’re awesome at proof reading, procurement, or simply figuring out what is wrong with the campaign, the proposal or the budget.
Now, as you know we don’t all neatly fall into one box or the other and we can swing from one to the other on different days too. We do, however, have tendencies and personality traits that serve us better in the roles we’re filling. These 5 key steps are designed to help the different types of people or even just the different traits within us all.
What can happen often is that the ‘How?’ type of thinker jumps straight into the ‘How’ questions before you’ve had a chance to talk about why they need to hear it. If that’s the case (and I promise you it will happen!) then you can simply preface your ‘What?’ by saying that you’ll take them through the details of the program, budget or concepts shortly. This will keep them at bay for a short time. If you get sucked in to talk about the details too early though you’ll miss engaging with the big picture thinkers and they are often actually the ones that ultimately call the shots.
*This article is inspired by a system called the 4Mat system invented by learning expert Bernice McArthy from About Learning in the United States of America. This has later been applied by The Coaching Institute as a speaking and training format to engage with all thinking styles.