As the holidays are fast approaching, our kids are preparing their wish list for Santa. It can be incredibly intimidating when the 2 boys who normally are at each other’s throats join forces to strategize and build a plan for securing the highly coveted Xbox One. By combining each other’s strengths (one is very practical and logical and the other is very strategic and wily) they have prepared a compelling case for Santa on the benefits of an Xbox One for our household. They began the conversation in a very compelling way, “What if we told you we had the ultimate solution for solving our constant fighting?”
According to them, all of the fighting over the current Xbox 360 will go away if there was another gaming system in the house. As an added benefit they reminded us that many of the games they play, such as Minecraft, can be educational and provide a means for collaboration and communications with their peers. They went on to add, that with less fighting between the two of them their father and I would be able to enjoy more quiet time alone. These two really know their audience!
This got me thinking about the best business case presentations I’ve encountered. They had a few common characteristics:
- Know your audience. Focus on the needs of the decision maker. Determine who it is that you need to get on board. This may be an individual or may be a group. What is it that they need to be successful? What is important to them? How do they measure success? What types of problems are they trying to solve? Can they help influence other key decision makers? This is the time to worry less about what you want and more about what they want.
- Define the problem. Now that you know what’s important to your audience, present the problem in a way that they can relate. For example, if you are presenting to the CFO and their success is measured by profitability, relate the problem back to the impact on the bottom line. In the case of our boys, they knew that a solution to all of the fighting would be compelling to their father and me. When they asked, they focused on our problem and not their own needs and wants.
- Create a vision for the future. Illustrate what the future could look like. This can be done through words, charts, pictures or spreadsheets. The focus is on bringing the possibilities to life, showing your audience how things could look if they would invest in the solution. You want them to be ready to take action. For our boys they showed us what it looks like when the two of them get along. We envisioned this idyllic picture of two sweet boys laughing and playing side by side while the two of us enjoyed a quiet cup of coffee in front of the fireplace.
- Present your solution and beware of counter arguments. Now that your audience is hooked, show them how you make their dream a reality. Clearly connect the dots between the problem and the solution. This is the most important part of the presentation. If your connections are not sound the whole thing could fall apart. This is where knowing your audience is incredibly important. In the case of our boys, we know there is more to their fighting than just the Xbox. Fighting among brothers is something a new gaming system would not solve. In fact, we believe it will introduce a whole new set of problems. This is where their proposal began to unravel.
- Be willing to negotiate. Know going into it that everyone wants to feel like they have won. And for some, the wins come from negotiation. For our boys, when we began to push back on the reality of their fighting coming to an end, they offered to do additional chores and even offered up part of their anticipated Christmas cash from Grandma.
Are the boys on the naughty or nice list? And will they get an Xbox One this year? Only Santa knows. Based upon how well they prepared for this Christmas, I cannot wait to see the presentation for a car when the first one turns 16.