The 5 types of listeners in every meeting or presentation, and how to reach them.
In the age of Google, we’re used to searching for content that applies directly to the topic at hand. Imagine how you search.
You type in: “Most innings pitched by a rookie reliever in the modern era”
And you get back wildly differing results – Mariano Rivera, Orioles, Mets, A’s, Phillies information. I grew up a Mets fan (I’ve since reformed), so in an instant, I hit the “Mets” listing and see if the record holder is a Met.
Faster than you could have read that previous sentence, I made a choice. I opted in to some searches and out of a host of others.
Audiences listen the same way these days. Whether they come to your presentation voluntarily or because it’s part of their job description to be in that meeting, they are listening the same way I described that web search.
People listen for the kind of content they prefer. They’re doing the equivalent of a search, as they listen, to decide if what you have is relevant to them.
If you want them to opt IN to you, you have to give them the right content up front.
You do that by directly addressing the five types of listeners in your audience:
- WHAT people: they want to know what we’re doing, what’s the goal, what’s the big picture here
- WHY people: they can’t hear a thing until you tell them why we’re doing things, what the stakes are, who benefits
- HOW people: they couldn’t care less why we’re doing anything; they want the steps, the phases, the structure and they want it now
- WHO people: who has the power, who does the grunt work, exactly where is my responsibility in relation to everyone else
- “NO” people: they see all the flaws and pitfalls of every plan and every permutation of the plan. They don’t create vision as much as they react to someone else’s vision
When you launch your presentation, you’re going to use the words that make each of these people feel like you’ve built the talk for them:
“By the time we leave this meeting, you’ll know everything you need to know about our plans to expand the sales team by 50 reps [what] and why this expansion will double our sales in the next 9 months. You’ll see how we’ll get them trained and out in the field within 30 days. You’ll be clear about your roles and the ways this expansion will impact you (WHO) and you’ll know exactly how to get your questions answered. We expect there to be some bumps [sort by ‘no’] but we believe we’ll look back on this expansion as one of the turning points in our company [what and why].
Thirty seconds of structure, complete with a promise of value, and you’ve met the needs of each of those listening types. They’ll opt in and keep listening to you.
You need to know which of these preferences resonate with you. Sometimes speakers are boring to an audience because they speak only about the content that matters to themselves, and leave out the other four preferences for content.
A Why Person tends to lead with the dire consequences/glorious possibilities of not doing/doing things, and take too long to get to what the plan is. A Who Person will start by assigning responsibilities and who will be what to whom, without clarifying what steps are involved, or why they matter.
You get the picture.
Mix it up, and your age of Google audiences may actually listen to you.
Photo by: Flickr/Orange_Beard