Saturday, February 28, 2015

Having trouble getting buy-in from your stakeholders?

I'm too excited about the Chicago Business District Leadership Program to limit this to one post. We are now in Day 3 of our opening retreat so here goes....

A BDL participant sharing their vision stand
How do you succinctly and effectively find partners and champions to support you in your corridor revitalization efforts? For corridor managers, the key to success hinges on the answer to this question.
For most, a one-on-one conversation is critical to engaging and garnering support from key stakeholders. Think about it. Have you ever gotten a big grant without a one-on-one pitch to a funder? Have you ever convinced a business to come to your corridor without a one-on-one? My guess is no.

This afternoon the LISC Chicago Business Leadership program worked on this issue. We call them “Vision Stands”. What are those, you ask? At its most basic, a vision stand is a clear and compelling picture of the future you envision…in less than 2 min. Basically an elevator speech. And a darn good one.

Why is a succinct pitch so important? Because the truth is that attention span is short – most of the time  you lose your audience to their own thought processes long before you get to the so called important part of your pitch. Being able to engage is critical to getting others to enroll and provide support for your efforts.

So what makes for a good vision stand? In the BDL program, participants are each given 2 minutes to present their visions to the whole group. They are then provided feedback from one another on three key areas - presence, clarity and credibility. They are pushed to make sure that their vision inspires, and to do that, they need to make sure that they excel in those three key areas.
  • Presence refers to how you show up in front of the group. The speakers quality of being and connection with the group and people’s experience of the speaker who is up in front of them.
  • Clarity refers to an individual’s ability to explain their thoughts clearly and to leave the audience with an ability to summarize elements from their vision.
  • Credibility is the toughest of the three. This refers to the ability of the speaker to offer the audience a sense that they can do what they said they were going to do. Is the speaker believable and do they have the capacity to pull it off? Are they believable? Do they exude confidence. Does their body language communicate self confidence in their work? 
It's not just about the speaker. The exercise is as critical for those providing feedback as it is for the recipient. Offering constructive feedback is so important to effective leadership. Managing people, whether they are your staff or your partners, means having honest discussions about what is working and what isn't. So the exercise really goes both ways and helps all participants.

After the exercise, our facilitator Jose Acevedo shared with us research conducted by Albert Mehrabian from UCLA. What Mehrabian found was that three things contribute to how people perceive and feel about the speaker – whether they like or dislike the speaker and message. What I found fascinating is that people’s perception of you has very little to do with the content of what you say. In fact, only 7% of their feelings are associated with the actual words you say. 38% is related to voice dynamics and the WAY words are said.  And finally, 55% of people’s perception of you is related to your body language, specifically your facial expressions.
Receiving praise from participants after a Vision Stand

Understanding this is powerful, because it tells us about the importance of non-verbal communication in building credibility with our stakeholders. So step away from your email, and make or the call, or better yet, set up a one-on-one with a potential new partner and be prepared to share your vision. This is the first step in your ability to convince others to contribute to your efforts – whether that be a contribution of time (like attendance at meetings), money (contributions in the form of membership, or grants or city funding), or expertise.

Good luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment