Reposted from the SLA LMD blog, my write-up of one of LMD’s #SLA2015 conference sessions:
Despite occupying the slot before lunch on the last day of the conference, and being up against some stiff competition in the schedule, Scott Leeb’s presentation attracted a packed audience. With an extensive pedigree in CI and KM roles, and a brisk, authoritative manner, he spoke persuasively and informatively, and I certainly took away some useful points to put into action.
One piece of advice which particularly resonated with me was to open with the take-home point. I am particularly afflicted with the need to set the scene by telling the story of my research, but of course what a busy executive wants to hear is “do x, it’ll cost y and result in z benefit. If you don’t do x, r will happen”. Naturally the research needs to have been done, and the story prepared in case of need, but the impact has to be there up front. Plus then if they get called away after two minutes they’ll actually have heard your point, not just the preamble to your narrative!
Drawing from his earlier military background, as well as subsequent corporate experience, Scott advised us to spend time getting to know the enemy. Profile your executives, find out how they like to receive information, know what their ‘hot-button’ issues are (you may also be advised to develop a good relationship with their assistant!). Then when you get the chance to present to them you’ll have a clearer idea of how best to get your message over. Scott illustrated this with an example of someone who was failing to get traction with their executive despite a number of detailed presentations. When asked why this could be, the assistant said “you do know he’s dyslexic, don’t you?’.
Another issue Scott raised was that of developing the reputation of your service within the organization – the goal is to be recognized as a source of authority, and have champions who will reinforce this. As he put it, there is a huge difference between access to executives and influence over them – strive to be seen as a trusted adviser who helps with decision support. This can be aided by branding the information centre’s output – Scott described a colleague who printed everything on canary yellow paper – anything which helps to make you and your work more memorable.
If you’d like to read more about the session, there’s a copy of Scott’s slides at https://www.sla.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/1443_Be-Bold-Be-Brief-and-Be-Gone-Leeb.pdf and I recommend you take a look as they include some particularly good lists of advice.
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