We discuss in every single workshop the power and importance of knowing your audience. It is a fundamental belief here at The Latimer Group, and we embrace the fact that knowing your audience is a key differentiator between mediocre and great communication skills. Here is a story to illustrate the point.
We partner with many professionals in the Human Resources (HR) and Learning and Development (L&D) functions. For our target client organizations, the professionals in these roles are our key relationships. They typically own the responsibility to build learning curricula that will satisfy the needs of their organizations. And they also own the relationships with vendors like The Latimer Group, who can provide coaching and training to fulfill those needs.
So, in addition to attempting to provide great coaching and training, we focus on being good partners to these organizations, and more specifically to the individual HR and L&D professionals we work with. We want to partner well with their organizations AND with them as people.
Recently we were preparing for an important meeting with one of our most important L&D partners. We were going to be reviewing their satisfaction with our work, and also planned on reviewing a long list of other things. We thought there was more opportunity to be examined, and we had a lengthy agenda.
But as we were preparing for the meeting, my colleague Whitney mentioned something important. In a recent phone call to prepare for the meeting, this person revealed to Whitney a few details about the current state of life at home. It was all positive, but there was a lot chaos at that moment, and probably not a lot of sleep. Several young kids, a full-time job, a full-time working spouse… life was pretty exhausting.
As we were preparing for the meeting, Whitney had a valuable insight. She said, “You know, this person’s life is crazy right now. This agenda seems really long, and based on our last conversation, I think this person would appreciate a really simple meeting. I think we are trying to do too much.” Whitney’s point was simple and profound. Let’s put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. Life is hectic. Sleep deprivation is routine. Work is crazy, with lots of meetings scheduled back-to-back-to-back, many of which run long, If we really wanted to embrace the principle of “knowing your audience,” perhaps we should try to make this person’s life easier? Whitney suggested that we shorten the agenda, focus only on the most important things, and table everything else. She suggested that we work on having a good, but simple, meeting, that perhaps might even end a bit early. In other words, let’s try to be the simplest and easiest part of this person’s day.
That is exactly what we did, and the person commented immediately on it afterwards. We got a “thank you” email, with specific mention of how much it was appreciated that our meeting was simple and quick. And we ended up getting some really good outcomes from the meeting. I am certain the approach recommended by Whitney led to a better outcome for us. We were aware of the other person’s circumstances, and we reacted and respected those circumstances.
Know your audience… it seems obvious, but the opportunities to really leverage the idea are far reaching. When you demonstrate that level of respect, great things happen, for you and your audience.
Competitive advantage awaits.
Have a great day.