You may be sharing your ideas and opinions with in-house clients and mangers, but do they really hear you?
To illustrate my point, let me tell you a quick story about Jill Magid, an American conceptual artist.
For a street-art project in Amsterdam, Jill wanted to decorate the city’s surveillance cameras with colorful rhinestones. But when she presented her plan to city officials, they just scratched their heads and told her they didn’t work with artists.
But Jill didn’t give up. A few weeks later, she returned to city hall, this time presenting herself as a Security Ornamentation Professional at System Azure, a made-up company.
She gave her carefully crafted pitch. And when she was done, the administrators agreed to let her bedazzle their cameras. Matter of fact, they even paid her a couple of thousand dollars to do it, according to The New Yorker.
I don’t tell Jill Magid’s story to advocate her tricky tactics — such deception is usually a sure recipe for sudden ruin.
I offer the episode because of an important statement she made afterwards.
“I realized that the officials could not hear me when I spoke as an artist,” Jill said.
Her sentence strikes a loud bell, because when I’m training and coaching in-house creatives on presentation skills, they’ll often say something like, “My clients just don’t get it,” or “They totally missed the point of what I was saying.”
What they are really telling me is similar to what Jill Magid observed: Clients and managers sometimes simply can’t understand in-house creatives when they speak. Different languages are being spoken, even though everybody works in the same organization.
To connect with decision makers, we must always present ideas in their language — not in the language of brand strategists, marketers or designers.
To be heard, we must be sure we aren’t talking to ourselves with the terminology and examples in our presentations, but rather embracing the vernacular and values of decision makers.
We need to know their specific business responsibilities, understand their needs and talk their language.
Otherwise, decision makers will not hear us when we speak.
Sam Harrison is an in-demand speaker, trainer and coach on presentation skills and creativity-related topics. He is the author of three popular books: “IdeaSelling,” “IdeaSpotting” and “Zing!” Find him at www.zingzone.com
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