Skillset New Zealand Blog

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lobbying getting to the point

Picture this. You're about to be ushered in front of the committee (or board, or council, or panel, or a single authority figure etc). Once there you'll have five minutes to tell them what you want.

First you need to know that rambling lobbyists are the curse of committees everywhere. Committee faces are courteously blank, but their minds are in prayer: Please, please get to the point... don't waste our time... what do you want from us?

Here's how to answer that prayer and do your chances of success a power of good.

The technique

Greet them, summarise what you want in one sentence, then explain.

It's almost that simple, but let's spell it out.

Greet them

A real greeting, not a formality. Look around, meeting their eyes warmly as you say the words, 'Good morning'. Not a cheesy smile - just a bit of the genuine warmth you might have for a neighbour you like.

Summarise what you want in one sentence

Literally start with the words, 'I want...'

'I want to outline my recycling project and ask for your financial support.'
'I want to show you why we need to change the weekend roster.'
'I want to ask for your approval to increase the training budget.'

It must be your real intent

Your real intent must not come sliding in at the end. That first example does not work if you say, 'I want to talk about the recycling project.'

You might wonder if coming right out with it up front is somehow too direct or too aggressive. But no, not in our culture. Come right out with it and you'll generate this thought response: Great... strong person... straight forward... knows what she wants. In other words you have psychologically nudged the committee slightly in your favour even before you get to why they should agree with you.

Then explain

Well of course. Any committee will need to hear more than that one sentence. Now you can expand, but plan it in advance so that you can keep it concise. If you ramble, you'll undo the great start.

Those three steps are about lobbying successfully for something you want. But have you spotted how easily this applies to presentation skills in front of any audience? The only difference is that you might tie the audience into what you want. 'Good morning. I want to show you that the new computer system is going to be a lot easier for you to use than the one you've been putting up with.'

More on that another time.


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