While working for a company that was prominent in its field and whose links with Pompeii now seem uncanny, I was involved in a Technical Review Meeting with a major customer. We switched on our GPS to ready ourselves for the great event, threw all available resources into its preparation and then, when it was all over and the wine and vol au vents were bringing matters to a close, I asked my champion customer for some feedback.

And why had he been so (uncharacteristically) quiet throughout the proceedings?

“Well”, he replied, “you spent all day saying how brilliant you were, and so there didn’t seem to be much left to say”.

Oops! We have fallen into the old trap. Our preparation had been far too biased towards (1) what we wanted to tell the customer and (2) producing/selecting the slides to do it (GPS).

The MAP antidote recalls three fundamental aspects of just about any client–contact task, and it is especially useful for preparing calls and presentations. And though a MAP is less technologically sophisticated than GPS, its use requires a certain skill and know-how. Hence, a few words of instruction are in order.

The M stands for My Objectives, and this means my personal objectives. They may go beyond the meeting goals that I expose to my client when we meet. This is ok - I can remain honest and authentic without being naively transparent.

Of course, if I am working with a colleague, then we discuss our objectives.

These are also my immediate objectives for the encounter, not the $10 million order we hope to receive next year. The immediate objective will be something like: “obtain an introduction to the VP of R&D”, or “discover any possible obstacles to the acquisition of this technology”.

Note also that my objectives should be bidirectional in nature: stuff that I wish to discover from my client; information to give to them; things to negotiate with them. On the latter point, I may negotiate requests received from my clients, but I can also make requests myself. It is most important to include what I intend to request from my client in my objectives. Don’t ask, don’t get!

In summary, My Objectives are:

  • personal
  • immediate
  • bidirectional

The term “audience” is used here to mean any type of audience, from people in a meeting or on a telephone call to the participants of training courses and seminars.

It is crucial to “put myself in the audience’s shoes”. I can do this by visualising my audience, or remembering a conversation that I have had with them, or perhaps by talking about them to someone. It does not matter much, just so long as I focus outwards, towards the needs and concerns of my audience, rather than inwards, towards my own stuff.

Finally, the P stands for my Plan. This may be very simple, e.g:

  • A list of tasks to tackle (but not prioritised)
  • A decision on which of the tasks to do first

This “next move” plan is useful when I cannot manage anything more elaborate. It helps me get moving when my workload is overwhelming and allows me to focus on the most important thing that has to be done.

Every other type of plan can be considered “multi-move”, and it may be implemented using some sort of planning tool, or not. I occasionally resort to common sense but, even so, it is a good thing to write it down!

I use MAP all the time and can swear to its effectiveness. Even so, I am amazed by the feedback on the tool that I have received from training courses and workshops. In spite of (or perhaps because of) its incredible simplicity, it is easily the most widely adopted of all the tools that I share with AEs.

So, throw that GPS in the bin. For your next presentation, use a MAP!

To go further: http://www.icondasolutions.com