Clarify Your Thoughts Before Expressing Them

Think you don’t have time to prepare for a high stakes conversation or presentation? Think again.

Last week a colleague reached out and asked if I could spend a few minutes helping her clarify thoughts for a meeting with the company president.

Jessie is a 30 year old go-getter proactively taking steps to advance her career in the energy industry. Her goal: A top leadership position within her organization.

So, Jessie and I scheduled a short call.

She said, “Can I tell you what I was thinking of saying?”

“Absolutely,” I said.

Jessie shared her ideas.

She sounded nervous. Her thoughts were scattered and her delivery filled with “ums” and “ahs”. She spoke fast, making her ideas hard to follow.

Jessie then asked me what I thought.

I asked her, “What did you think?”

She said, “I’m so nervous!”

And with good reason. Grabbing 5 minutes with the company President is nerve racking, especially when you’re trying to prove yourself as a leader on the rise.

Enter Coaching

Jessie needed to focus her message. She had only 5 minutes to make her point.

So, I asked her the following questions:

  1. Why this meeting?
  2. Why now?
  3. What are up to 3 key points you want to make?

Jessie told me she recently started a new position in the organization with new responsibilities and opportunities. That got her thinking about career development. Eventually, Jessie wants a “seat at the table.” She reached out the President for guidance and advice on the skills she needs to develop to achieve her goals.

She wants him to..

  1. Know she’s interested in growing into a senior leadership position
  2. Know she’s committed to her growth and development within this organization
  3. Share insights

Now we have a starting point.

From Frazzled to Focused

In less than 30 minutes Jessie went from frazzled to focused. We created a simple structure and culled what wasn’t relevant to make her point. She felt more confident and clear about her message. She ran through it several times and made tweaks before saying, “Thank you. This sounds so much better!”

Jessie reached out after her meeting and let me know that the meeting went well.

The President gave her 15 minutes of time and engaged in a positive conversation about opportunities. In addition, Jessie felt that she delivered her three key points clearly and confidently.

The Bottom Line

Winging it is not an effective communication strategy. What you say and how you say it matters. When facing a high stakes conversation or presentation, take time to clarify your thoughts and practice out loud in advance of the meeting. Simple tweaks can make a world of difference.

Your Turn to Talk to Me

Do you prepare for presentations or conversations?

What’s your process?

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About the blog

Humor, stories, and insights, delivered 2x per month, to perform without the pressure.

Topics include mental health, work, human connection, creativity and more.


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