We’ve all come across them in our time, those individuals on boards who fail to be heard by their co-directors.
There are those who simply can’t be heard because they’re as quiet as proverbial mice, seldom saying anything. Then there are those who are so damn garrulous that they find it impossible to pause even at hefty punctuation points, their voices so constant that they soon become little more than background drones.
In a word, both are dispensable – precisely because superior board members make an effective and positive contribution…and you can only do that when you’re articulate. With articulation comes persuasiveness.
But it’s not that easy and unless we’re schooled in how best to convey our thoughts and suggestions, we can often end up suffering the enormous frustration – for some it borders on a simmering fury – that comes with presenting an argument that is subsequently repeated by another, the Johnny- or Jenny-Come-Lately then being acknowledged and lauded for a point well made!
If you’ve been the victim of such scenarios, here’s a trick of the trade that’s sure to help: tell them what you’re about to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you’ve just told them!
You’ll note that there are three parts to the trick – and that’s no coincidence as three appears to be a powerful number, with three-part logic omnipresent in syllogisms; in geometry, engineering, navigation, music and some religions; and even across children’s stories in all cultures.
Those in the numerology know tell us it’s because two parts are viewed as inadequate, while four, five or more cannot be remembered.
Think about it, there’s location, location, location; a hat-trick; third time lucky; on you mark, get set, go; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; three meals a day; and see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
In fairy tales, there’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; Three Blind Mice; Three Little Piggys; and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Hey, there’s even the plethora of jokes that begin with “…have you heard the one about the Englishman, the Irishman and the Australian who are sitting in a pub when…”
So, to get the credit you deserve and make a meaningful contribution at board meetings, structure your thoughts and arguments into the three segments. Introduce what you’re going to say in precis form, expand on it in the body of your argument and conclude by reminding everyone of the salient points you’ve just made.
Not only is this approach easier to deliver but it’s far more likely to be memorable…and therefore persuasive.
And if you can add a positive style and tone of voice to your presentation, display common decency and manners and avoid stereotypes such as “ah well, women always think like that”, chances are you’ll even be a whole lot more convincing and influential.
Until next time,