There is Always an “Ask”… Always

I have a wide range of conversations with the people I coach. Coaching discussions on communication and leadership skills can cover a lot of territory. But there is a short list of things that seem to come up over and over and over.

And at the top of the list is this seemingly simple idea. Always start your preparation for an important presentation/meeting/conversation/email by first thinking about what you are asking for in that presentation/meeting/conversation/email. Why is this important? Because whether you realize it or not, you are always asking for something.

Sometimes the ask is simple and easy to identify, like an approval, agreement, or permission to do something. You might be asking for resources, or selling something. But sometimes the ask is something you can’t explicitly say out loud, like “asking” your audience to trust you, or to back off, leave you alone and let you do your job.

The ask can be clear and obvious and must be verbalized… I am asking for approval for our 2024 budget, so we can start building out our sales plan. In this case, your ask is explicit. You are asking for specific resources. Or the ask can be subtle or silent… Our team has the project well under control and we don’t need any support or resources at this time. In this case, your ask is implicit. You are asking to be left alone.

But regardless, there is always an ask. And it is critical to your success that you identify that ask as early as possible in your preparation. Why? Because when you don’t know what your ask is, it is highly likely that your message will wander around aimlessly, and you will fall into messenger mode, just talking at the audience with no clear destination in mind. If you don’t know what your ask is, you will be highly likely to produce an unclear message that accomplishes little.

In the twenty-one years that I have been doing this work, I have yet to listen to a single presentation or message plan where it was not possible within one or two questions to uncover an outcome that the speaker wants or needs to create. Once that ask is identified, a clear path almost always is easier to identify, and a message plan with purpose suddenly starts to reveal itself one step at a time.

So the next time you start to tell yourself that you are not asking for anything, and that this presentation is “just an update,” I want you to hear my voice in your head, quietly but firmly warning you that you are making a mistake.

Say it with me now…

There is always an ask.

There is always an ask.

There is always an ask.

Have a great day.

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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Brett Slater

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.