Friday, September 21, 2007

Eying Eyeore

I was doodling this week while parked in a meeting. Fellow chair sitters, in their absorption and assessment of a presentation, fell in to one of four camps:

Nay Say: Eyeore-esque naysayers living in a "yeah, but ..." world, cynically chirping, "we're never going to get there." Tough nuts (or donkeys) to crack.

Say Hey: The cheerleaders (or Tiggers) of the group, bouncing 'round the room like an unplugged helium balloon. They're on board, but the challenge is to corral and focus their enthusiasm.

Opaque: Placid, analytical (or bored?), I-have-no-clue-what-you're-thinking poker face postures. Could go either way. When they speak everyone listens. These are the sage owls of the group.

Say yeah!: Our champions who analytically and anecdotally help build our case, ward off Eyeores, covert Opaques, and focus Say Heys.

Our challenge coming in was to understand the audience and craft a story that resonated with the group. The challenge mid-stream/presentation was to interpret the group and adjust, to identify Eyeores and Opaque folks, to channel the energy of Say Heys, and to shut up when Say Yeahs speak. As a presenter, you're a puppeteer of your audience -- if you're effective, the puppets, with a little orchestration, will play their parts and help you accomplish your goal.

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Post-script (10/8/07): My friend and ex-roommate Will, who knows a heckuva lot more about the above than me and is ascending the ranks of Cisco's management, chimes in with a sage addition:

The eyeore piece was interesting I'm going to use it for my sales team, but as an emphasis for call, account and meeting planning. I think a big piece of the message is knowing the participants and knowing the position you need/want them to play. No different than any of the deals or teams you put together just on a smaller scale. Know what you need everyone to do, or not do and then which buttons to push to make them happen. Planning, planning, planning and knowing your audience. Of course, doing the work to understand what makes each of the people move is always the hard part.

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