I observe between 60 to 100 executives per year as they hone their consulting/advising skills. I am always amazed and impressed with the ones who have the innate ability to quiet themselves so that their audience has time to process and respond. They resist the temptation to interrupt with more information.
I need to see more of this.
More Is Not Better
It’s only natural that we want to provide enough information to a client so that they are fully edified about our idea/recommendation…but not at the expense of blurring the issue! More is not better.
With too much information a client can become confused with the overload of data and, as a result, may pull back. Worse yet, they may not tell you why. Keeping the conversation focused and on point sometimes…many times…takes the discipline to stay quiet and listen. It also requires that you keep yourself focused without flying off on tangents.
Keep Things Relevant
Last year I was coaching a client in Los Angeles. It came time for him to present his recommendation, which he did with ease. Once he delivered it, though, he then, without waiting for her reaction, asked if she lived close by the office. In my head I thought, “What? How is that relevant to what you just said?” The woman paused a bit, seemed a bit confused and began speaking about how she came to relocate to the LA area from Chicago.
Ten minutes later, we resumed the focus of our meeting. But all the great groundwork he had laid had been diluted. So, he was forced to rehash some points, which made them weaker in their second-time-around presentation.
Keep Quite and Honor Your Audience
Here’s the coaching point: honor people by allowing them time to understand and digest what you’ve just recommended. Don’t force their hand with additional data, over-communicated thoughts or a tangential question that takes you off in different directions. When you need a reaction, stay quiet and wait for it. It will give your customers/clients time to organize their thoughts and present you with a response that could help you fine tune your recommendations.
Pay attention to the next time you over-communicate and let me know what you could have done differently.