It takes about eight hours of someone’s time, your time, your team’s time to give a senior executive team or board 15 minutes of advice. Those 15 minutes simply can’t be wasted!

Over the last four weeks I have taken you through the four key elements of my Pathfinder Model for a winning conversation. Stand in their shoes, Paint them a pictureTell them a story and Make them believe.

It is called the Pathfinder Model because every one of us puts up barriers to poor advice and you need to find the path through those barriers. My kids frequently give me advice and the advice I take with minimal barriers raised is about social media. When they provide me with advice about where to spend my money, though, all of my barriers are up, locked and loaded!

Reflect on this for conversations with your board. Are they comfortable, amicable conversations for you or are you ushered into the board room, you present, they ask questions (or not) and you are ushered out? It is not rocket science as to which situation will be more favourable for you to be providing your advice.

In my Winning Conversations book which is about to go to print I include a small section towards the end titled “Conversing” with a larger group. The first and most important tip I give is to facilitate a discussion, never merely present. For example, put forward hypotheses about the issue being considered and check if the board agree or disagree with your hypotheses. Explore comments made to deepen your understanding, and theirs, of the issue. Smoothly transition from discussion to presentation of your key points. Move back into discussion once you have presented. Don’t accept simple agreement. Explore why they agree. If they can’t explain why, they have not bought in. You need to get their buy-in before you leave.

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