Forensic Preparation for Stronger Connection

How do you prepare for that big sales call, or that important meeting with your boss? If you prepare at all (not trying to insult you, but a shocking number of people still try to “wing it”), and if you are like most people we meet, then your prep goes something like this… organize your thoughts, practice out loud what you want to say, etc. Pretty standard stuff, really. If you are preparing and practicing at all you are already ahead of the game. Well done, you.

But let’s take it to another level, and put a little more thought, psychology and method to our preparation. Let’s dig into the mind of the person we are getting ready to communicate with.

As my colleagues and I say all the time, communication is primarily about the other person, and your ability to connect what you are talking about with what they care about. So, the most important element of your preparation needs to be an effort to figure what might be the hook. Most people’s idea of preparation consists of organizing their own mind. That’s fine. We are not telling you NOT to do that. We are simply telling not to do ONLY that.

The most important part of your preparation is to take a close look at what you already know and what you can uncover about the other person. Here are a few things that will be helpful to you:

  1. What kind of job do they have? An accountant tends to care about numbers. A finance person tends to care about return on investment. An engineer tends to care about data.
  2. What is their degree in? Same idea as above, but if you learn that their degree is different from their current functional area, you just learned a bit more.
  3. How long have they worked in their current role? Are they established and comfortable? Are they new and still sorting things out?
  4. Have they moved around to a bunch of different roles in their career? Or have they always been in the same general type of position? Someone who moves around a lot maybe has a broad perspective. Or maybe can’t stay settled. Someone who has a long resume in the same type of position may be an industry expert. Or may be a little burned out.
  5. Have you ever met with, spoken with or worked with them before? If so, what kinds of questions do they typically ask? What do they typically look for? What causes them to say yes or no? And if you have not worked with them before, can you find someone who has?

The point here today is that questions like these lead to answers that will give you a richer, more forensic view of the person you are trying to connect with. And understanding what matters to the person across the table gives you a massive advantage in your ability to connect, sell, lead, negotiate, or compete with them. Don’t believe me? Ask Sun Tzu, Bill Belichick, Dwight Eisenhower, or anyone who has ever tried to develop an advantage in any competitive environment. They will all tell you exactly the same thing. Understanding what matters to the other person is the whole game.

Good luck, and have a great day.

We believe that great communication skills change the world. We transform people and organizations of all sizes with simple, repeatable techniques, through an integrated platform of corporate training, coaching, and asynchronous learning.

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Corporation’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.