Whenever you go into a professional situation where communications are vital, your success will often depend on the quality of the agenda you have before you start.
This agenda should include the important messages you need to convey – and contain a treasure chest of examples and evidence to back up these messages.
If you don’t have an agenda – or you haven’t got the right agenda – then it’s hard to achieve the outcomes you want.
This applies whether you’re going into a media interview, a sales call, a job interview, a career appraisal, a negotiation or any other kind of challenging professional conversation.
Having the right things on your communications agenda – and adapting it to each individual situation – is something that you may need to update for the “going back-to-work” phase of Coronavirus.
It’s highly likely that what your organisation is now offering – and/or what you are personally aspiring to achieve – will have been changed in some ways due to Covid-19.
So the messages you’re seeking to convey in professional conversations – and the persuasive examples and evidence that you need to illustrate those messages – may well need enhancing.
It’s the kind of challenge that I and my colleagues are helping organisations and individuals with in Corona Times communications-boosting sessions.
These sessions – online or face-to-face-socially-distanced – can be aimed at:
+ Better projecting your organisation’s updated vision – internally and/or externally
+ Persuading clients and prospects to buy into the latest version of your products or services
+ Getting you and/or your colleagues into top communications shape for whatever other challenges you face.
To summarise, my message to you is that it’s important to have a well-thought out agenda for each communications encounter – and that it needs to be the right agenda for our current times.
In line with this message, let me give you a back-up example of what happened in a very memorable situation where someone failed spectacularly by – typically – not having a well-thought out agenda…
WHAT CAN HAPPEN WITHOUT THE RIGHT AGENDA
This story goes back to the time when I was a university lecturer – and a selector of university applicants wanting to do Bachelor of Arts degrees and MA degrees in Broadcast Journalism.
There was one particularly atrocious interviewee performance from would-be BA student who wanted to proceed to tertiary education.
He was a talkative lad who looked a bit smarter than this.
The applicant had what should have been the strong advantage of having just finished doing Media Studies at college – the main reason that the university administrators offered him an interview.
I asked the applicant some easy starting questions about what he’d done on his practical assignments in college.
He told me the most important media assignment had to be done in pairs where, he volunteered, that his mark was relatively low.
He explained that this was because he’d teamed up with a female student who, he repeatedly assured me, had turned out to be absolutely terrible.
I wasn’t so interested in her efforts as she wasn’t an applicant.
But I did want to know more about the details of their joint project and – critically – what he’d learned from it.
Whatever I asked, every answer involved how she had messed things up.
One of our selection criteria was to choose students who could work successfully with others on team projects – such as jointly making radio programmes and producing mock news bulletins.
But every answer he gave indicated that he was not a team player – and was obsessively keen to blame others for anything that failed.
You probably won’t be surprised to know that I couldn’t possibly offer him one of our precious university places for fear that he’d cause havoc on our student group assignments.
DEVELOP YOUR OWN POSITIVE RELEVANT AGENDA
There’s a lot that this applicant obviously got wrong in the interview.
But his chief underlying mistake applies to many who enter important professional conversations and who end up doing badly.
The mistake is that they don’t have their own positive agenda worked out before the interview.
When you’re going into any challenging situation involving potentially tough – and easy – questions, one of the essential preparations is to have your own well-thought out agenda.
This should involve impressive things that you can talk about that are relevant to the situation and show you and/or your organisation at your best.
When you have the right messages and back-up examples/evidence, you can then use many of the questions as opportunities to refer to appropriate things on your agenda.
A persuasive communicator can find the win-win overlap points between the questioner’s agenda and their own agenda.
This is a learnable skill that I train individuals and groups on in sessions on Great Answers To Tough Questions.
There’s more on these sessions at:
Communications-boosting can also take place through tailored keynotes in online and face-to-face conferences.
If you’d like to discuss how communications-boosting sessions can help you and/or your team during the latest Corona Times phase, please email: email@example.com to line up a time to discuss your requirements.
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR TEENAGERS
It’s always a shame to see or hear of people who mess up what could be an excellent case through poor communications.
So I’m delighted to have the opportunity to help youngsters amidst these challenging times to avoid the pitfalls that the young university applicant above fell into.
I will be offering something very shortly to enable schools to help their pupils do better in job interviews and university application discussions.
If you’d like to know more please email me on
firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll tell you more about how it can work in schools and other educational institutions.
RECOGNISING THOSE WHO CAN DO IT
Fortunately, many who apply for university places and their first jobs are able to develop communication skills that are far superior to those of the unsuccessful applicant cited above.
Here’s an awards ceremony picture of successful one-time MA applicants – with their proud lecturer and two ITV presenters – who demonstrated excellent communications skills at their selection interviews … partly by having their own positive agendas which highlighted impressive aspects of their earlier studies.
These students went on to win awards by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council for documentary-making on a memorable night at the ITV studios – and have gone onto greater things in the media world and beyond after completing their master’s degrees.
Building strong foundations in your communications skills – and those of your team – can make the critical difference between failure and success.