Don’t Ignore the Other Why’s

We all know that one of the most important questions to address in our communication is why. Why are we proposing this change? Why is this a problem? Why should you care?

Along with what, how, when, where, who, and next, the why helps our audience see the relevance and importance of our communication and feel compelled to act on it. But there are other why’s that are often neglected, yet critical to persuading an audience – especially one that is reluctant or contrary.

Even an audience of receptive leaders often needs more convincing. They hear a lot of presentations about problems that need to be solved, process changes that need to happen, and new products that need to be created, but they cannot act on all of them. If we want to inspire action, we need to give our audience a more complete picture and a more compelling case.

We see a lot of presentations in our work at The Latimer Group, and the great ones always stand out for addressing the following:

Why now?

This may be my favorite. Great speakers always take the time to show us why now is the moment to act. They bring in elements of the current context, the competitive landscape, and the interdependent priorities to build a sense of urgency. They address key elements of benefit (the immediate and long-term ROI) and risk (the risk of inaction or delay) and tie them to a specific moment in time, making it hard for the audience to ignore their role as decision makers. By taking it a step further and providing a timeline to illustrate what the future will look like if we act now, speakers can move an issue up a leader’s long priority list, and fast.

Why this/us?

Another important question that great speakers resolve is why the plan that is being laid out and the people designated to oversee it are the right ones. Offering success stories, illustrating other places within the organization – or in other organizations – where this type of plan has been successful, and sharing a brief rationale of why this individual, this team, this organization is best to lead the way builds confidence in the audience, giving them a sense of reassurance in both validity and viability.

Why not?

The final why that great speakers handle with grace is the potential questions, concerns, and objections that an audience may have. By anticipating these in the preparatory process and proactively addressing them within a presentation or a conversation, speakers show that they have taken the time to understand the audience, care about their perspective, and consider all elements of what they are proposing.

It is important to note that these great speakers and great presentations succeed at incorporating these elements without running over their allotted time, overwhelming their audience with words and data. A clear and concise treatment is critical in demonstrating respect for an audience’s time and attention. A distraction-free slide deck and delivery are also crucial. If you want to find ways to stand out with your communication, make sure these other why’s are a part of your preparation process and proactive approach.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Hannah Morris

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.