Paul Glen is a man with one of the most thankless jobs in America outside of Mike Rowe. He’s CEO of Leading Geeks, which is described as “an education and consulting firm devoted to improving collaboration between technical and nontechnical groups and people.”
Spare a prayer for the man. As he says, he’s trying to translate and go between IT and business people, who, as he says, “have trouble communicating. It goes beyond speaking different languages. The two groups really think differently.” Really, really differently.
As he said recently to an audience of technical people, try this experiment: “The next time you give a presentation to business people, do a follow-up a day or two later. You will likely find that nearly everyone in your audience completely missed your point.”
? It works the other way too: Business people invariably jump at the opportunity to fly to Newark for the weekend to deal with a highly upset client than give a one-hour presentation to a roomful of IT people.
As Glen, an IT geek by nature, says, fellow geeks “misunderstand how business people process presentations and information. We make the mistake of believing that they think like we do. They don’t.”
Glen says the four elements of any presentation must be translated, as it were, from the tech mindset to be communicated adequately to nontechnical people.
First, of course, are the facts. Techies loooove facts. “Because facts are objective and verifiable, we find them compelling, even exciting. They stand on their own and provide a sense of order and structure that we like,” Glen says, noting that business people “need more than facts if they are going to arrive at your meaning.” No Sgt. Joe “Just The Facts Ma’am” Friday here.
They need the insights which, yes, depend on facts, but which need to be drawn out -- “for business people, insights are more influential than facts,” Glen says. Yes it feels...weird to tell a roomful of supposedly intelligent adults what the facts in front of them mean, but it must be done.
? And tell a story. For “nongeeks,” Glen says, “stories are the dominant structure for understanding facts and insights, making them viscerally accessible. It’s how they remember what the facts and insight mean in real life. Plus they’re fun to listen to.”
And what you’re saying needs to carry an emotional impact with your audience? -- “especially in cases where you’d like them to make a decision, change course or up your funding,” Glen says, adding that facts, plus insight, plus stories, all of which combines to leave an emotion with your audience, will get a bunch of business people to see things your way and take action.
Glen will present a Webinar discussing these and related concepts in further detail on Wednesday, March 14.
Edited by Jennifer Russell