Ask Dia: Presenting to my Execs and Defending Myself

Ask Dia episode!  Ever have an exec meeting go off the rails for one of your projects?  A caller asks about how to handle it when you're communicating a status and next steps for a critical projects and the convo goes awry and nothing you say helps. 


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Dia pulls out some of her communications mastery frameworks to help put the conversation in the right direction and help you gain back control.  Listen today!

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Dia Bondi  00:03

understand the difference in your job and your role. So your job might be, you know, head of community marketing fine. But your role in that room at that moment might be a little different than that. So understand that your job and your role in these moments might not always be the same. All right, everybody, welcome to the Dr. Bondi show. A big podcast for folks with goals. I'm Dia Bondi longtime leadership communications coach, and catalyst. Yes, I said catalyst. And also creator project asked like an auctioneer with a goal to help 1 million women and underrepresented folks ask for more and get it. So they can resource their dreams and reach their goals faster, and importantly, have a really good time doing it. And I'm joined today, just like every time we record this podcast with my by my on air producer, baby Arthur. Hi, baby. Hey, Dia, how's it going? Today? It's going good. I am kind of turned up, though. I have to say, Oh, yeah. turnt up, turret up a little bit. Yeah, tell me about it. Here's the thing. Expectations are a problem for us. Okay, I think I know what you mean. So yesterday, in one of my coaching sessions with a founder, CEO for some founder, CEO, he shared with me, he shared with me that, um, that he's been given so much feedback in his leadership that he basically doesn't even know how to be anymore. Like that he carved it. And this is something I see over and over again, that we always focus on, when when we're worried about expectations, we will carve ourselves down to just a tiny nub version of ourselves, I'm noticing that this week just in my life, in general, that the folks that I'm collaborating with on various projects are so worried about the expectations, they've drifted away from what their actual, what it is that they bring to the table that is uniquely there's a way to actually survive doing hard things. Through you know, we survive doing hard things by holding on to who we actually are, and what matters to us. And expectations can work that hard. And the only way I see over what not the only way but one of the key ways that we can manage expectations, deal with expectations, reject expectations, grapple with expectations, and hold on to ourselves in the face of it is to be willing to actually disappoint it. Here's an example of the upside of that, of the upside of that. I had a I had a discovery call with a potential client not long ago. And they're like a large ad agency, they are the AR for some of the biggest brands that you have in your closet right now. And we were talking about, you know, what I do around communications, leadership, voice development, etc. as well as some of my ask for more and get it stuff. And in the conversation, the head of learning and development was asking me a question about the kinds of coaching I do. And he was saying, here's what's here's what's kind of coming up that we might need help with. And he named something. And I said, Okay, and give me another one. And he named something else, and I and then named something else. And I said, Well, you know what, those aren't me. Those are I don't do that. I don't do that. I don't do that. Here's it, here's what it is that I do and who I am or what I bring. And I knew that I was not meeting an expectation in that moment. Like it felt like I had a choice of saying like, like, probably do that. Because the truth is, I probably could many of us could do the thing that is kind of off kilter for us, we can figure out a way to do it, we can step up to the plate, we can perform, you know, in the face of those expectations, we could figure out a strategy, we can deliver the goods. But in that moment, I made a choice to say no, I know that that's an expectation that you have around a need that you have, and maybe an expectation that you're sharing with me that you might want me to fulfill for you. But those aren't actually aligned to who I am what I do in the impact I want to have in the world. Here's what I do. And and as soon as I was done, explaining to him sort of the truth of where I'm at my best and how I can bring the most value. I hate that phrase, but nonetheless, like, bring the most value. He said, you know, do what's crazy is I talked to hundreds of coaches as a learning development lead. And I like it's so refreshing to have you say what you don't do because so many coaches I talked to say, I can do that. I can do that. I can do that. They say they can do everything but even mindset coaching, they're doing time management coaching, they're doing productivity coaching they're doing etc. And, and it's really, it's really quite refreshing to hear you say well, you Don't do and it helps me really understand where to put you so that you, you know, so that we can kind of get the best out of what we need and what you offer it, but it took me being willing to go, you haven't you have a bunch of thoughts about what I am. And that's actually not true and have the courage to say No, thank you. All right, you know, it's crazy Arthur, what's that? I was just looking at how the podcast is performing. And it's really interesting our all time our most downloaded episode is the episode called How to goals if you don't have one, which I think is kind of interesting, because I often assume that folks have goals. And, um, and maybe y'all don't have goals. Or maybe you have five goals, and you're struggling with which one is the one that is, I want to say, right, but maybe right for you. So if you're not one of those folks who have listened yet to the episode titled, how to goals, if you don't have one, go ahead and jump over there. I think it's like episode six. And check it out. Because you know, our version also of goals is not just about like something you could put in an OKR and objective and a key result, but instead, you know, it can be about life experiences, and lots of different things. This show is completely about helping you reach your goals, whatever they might be, even if they're about doing less of something. So yeah, I thought that was kind of interesting. That was the most downloaded so far.

Arthur  06:41

Yeah, that's interesting. If you haven't heard that episode, yet, you can go back into the archive and take a listen. And you know, if you really like what we're doing here, you can subscribe rate and review and help the Deobandi show reach more people. You can even give us a call at 341-333-2997. And ask us a question, which is what we have going on today. Huh? So I know you say every time we have a listener question that you're nervous to hear it. And you know that you might not, maybe you won't have advice for them this time.

Dia Bondi  07:18

You know, it's kind of crazy, I feel like that every time I step on stage, every time I walk into a new coaching engagement, every time I set up to record something, or record a course and work with, you know, whatever, I just, there's always that little moment where it's not doubt, it's just a little bit of like, I know, it's like, you know, you're good at this. And there's like anticipation combined with like, maybe this is the one where it's not gonna work. And for all of you who have that feeling all the time, as well, I'm with you, number one. And number two, it's natural. Like, you know, when I work with folks who in the communication space, like, there's some expectation too often that we're not supposed to be nervous before we take a stage or get in front of that critical audience, whether it's, you know, fundraising or a TED talk,

Arthur  08:09

yeah, I, I had the same thing, whenever I'm doing a video production, where I'm like, maybe this is the one where it just all goes off the rails. And, you know, we end up with nothing. Yeah, I've heard horror stories from other producers and filmmakers about that sort of thing hasn't happened to me yet. But, you know,

Dia Bondi  08:31

not what I mean. The other the other part of that is like, if you recognize your own process, and you name it and claim it, which is something I really like to do, you don't have to make it a problem, you can just be like, Oh, there it is, it just showed up, that's this part, this is where I go for a walk, or this is where I drink a glass of water, or this is where I put a fresh shirt on, like, whatever the thing is, that helps you ritualize and sort of name and claim. And you know, and that feeling can also be just as you know, a signifier that something that what you're about to do is really important to you. Right? And speaking of which, what I'm about to do to respond to this, the the answer to the question that you're about to play is important to me, it's important to me that listeners get something out of, you know, the questions and the struggles that other folks who listen to the show are going through in their everyday careers, lives and businesses. So hit me. Alright, here we go.

Caller  09:23

Hey, Dia, I would love your advice on something that comes up often for me. I work in Marketing on the creative side. And last week, I had a meeting with a few of our executives to finalize details of a project we're working on, that was supposed to launch this week. But we only got about 10 minutes into the meeting before it was basically back to square one and we were revisiting the entire strategy and I left the meeting, feeling really depleted. You know, I had tried to redirect the conversation to get us back on track and then it ended I'm coming off as defensive. And I was just really taken by surprise, because we had gone through, you know, several rounds of feedback and approvals. And now we're starting from scratch. So I guess my question for you is, what advice do you have on communicating when things go off the rails? And how do you do that without being defensive? I'm a big fan of the show. And I can't wait to hear your perspective on this. Thanks.

Dia Bondi  10:28

Great question relatable. So I just want to start by saying, Thank you for calling in. And if you are listening to the show right now and you have a question that you want to you want to send on in, please don't be shy, we're super friendly here. If you call the show, you literally get a voicemail, nobody's gonna pick it up. You just leave a voicemail. And you can leave it anonymously, you can leave your name if you'd like. It's really, really easy. And, and, and welcome. Let's just say that. So thank you caller for this question. It's a really beautiful one. And it's the one that a lot of us struggle with, when we go into those high stakes meetings, we know our task is to move something forward. And holding it together and moving it forward in the face of lots of different voices and opinions and points of view, can be really hard when you're the one that's you know, in charge of the storytelling around what's going on in the project, and also the one that's accountable for moving it forward. I want to start by saying this stuff happens, like sometimes it that can happen, going back to square one can happen. And sometimes it's the right thing to do, even if it's painful for you. So, you know, we can't have an expectation, haha, speaking of expectations, expectations can ruin us as well, when we go in with our own expectations. And the gap between that expectation what's actually happening in the room can can cause a little bit of self sabotage. So we have to have the expectation that it can go, it can change, things can change. And so it's sometimes is that things go back, you know, backwards or back to square one that does happen. If you want to influence the outcome of these conversations. And if you want to communicate the story, you need to tell to get the decisions, you need to move things forward, based on previous work, there's a couple of things that you know you can do, you can understand the difference, you can walk into those meetings, even in the content process, content development process, when you're prepping for it, whether you're, you know, sharing previous work, you're whatever the story is the slides you put together to help us, you know, move a decision forward, you understand the difference in your job and your role. So your job might be, you know, head of community marketing fine. But your role in that room at that moment, might be a little different than that. Maybe your role in that moment based on the stage of the of the project is to be a facilitator of understanding. Maybe your role in that moment, is to be is to be the painter of the picture of the future. Maybe your role in that moment, is to lower anxieties so that people have room to make a decision. Maybe your maybe your role in that moment is to be the clarity maker or the or the the questioner. So understand that your job and your role in these moments might not always be the same. That's number one. Number two, is to recognize that especially when you're dealing with founder executives, who are running and gunning all day long, they have 1000s of decisions on their plate constantly from you know, from people struggles to product struggles to marketing struggles to find out struggles, they are in they are divided to a degree that is almost inhuman. So so we have almost is yes, it is unbelievable. I mean, who you're talking about color that you spoke to, in that in that moment are often my clients and they are spread then. So if your job is community marketing, and your role in the room might be to run the room might might be really important to the people making the decisions if you if you recognize how little context they might have, how little memory they might have, how little recognition of where we've been, they might have because they're spread so thin. You can you can help bring them back into our current state by doing the storytelling necessary to get us present to what needs to happen now. And in that way, I mean, to build calm text for them to not assume that the moment that they log into that zoom call or the moment they sit down, and you start talking that they have, that they're right where you are, you've got to meet them where they are, and then bring them where you want to go. That is one of my 21. By the way, if if folks are listening, you can go to Deobandi calm and get the 21 things you can do to have more impact in front of any audience at any time anywhere. And meeting folks where they are and then bringing them where you want to go, is something that can help you keep full momentum in that moment and not let things get off the rail, because they might be coming in from a totally different vantage point or lack of understanding that you thought they had last week, they don't have any more it's gone. Other things that replaced it, meeting them where they are, and reminding them of context and bringing them up to date, especially around helping them remember what decisions they already made and their rationales for having made those decisions. And elevating those that quote unquote reminder to being something really, really important. Here's where we are in the project. Here's where we were, we decided on this strategy. And you said yes, because you thought X, Y, and Z. And so then we develop the concept into these three choices. We chose this one, and you chose it because you said it was x, y and z. So that folks, you are talking to a reminder how smart they are, they're reminded of the rationale that they use to make a decision. And that you elevate that storytelling, it's got to be brief, but it's got to be accurate. So that we are all re on boarded into where we are right now. And in that way, what you are doing is not convincing anybody of anything you are you are narrating the process for folks in the room who need to update and be reminded of their understanding of where they are, where we've been and where we're going next. So understand the difference between your job and your role in the moment, to you've got to meet us where we are, and build context. And three, don't be shy to be a narrator of the process. So that we can all get brought along with you. If you can have these three things, you know it as a framework in your mind, when you sit down to plan what that 40 minutes is going to be what that 45 minutes is going to be a half an hour, one hour three hour strategy session, whatever it is, it might help you get a little bit of space from taking the decisions that might happen in the room personally. Now, one thing you might want to do to help facilitate that is, sit for just a second second and take an inventory of what questions you think your audience, these executives, the founders that you're walking in, to help move the process along. take an inventory of the questions you think they might have. And make sure that those are addressed somewhere in somewhere in the story that you're going to tell with to them. And the big part of all of this is it when you bring people along, help them remember how smart they are. Help them remember what great decisions they had made up until this moment, help them recall the rationales they used in the moments to say yes to one thing, and no to another. When you can come from that perspective of your role in the room, when you can have empathy for how lost folks are the moment they start the meeting with you. And that you know, the the the pile on the stack that they're dealing with every single day, that is not part of the story you need to tell right now, you may be able to have a little bit more control of the moment because you've got some space from their decision being personal. Instead, their decision being an outcome of a whole bunch of other chaos, or lack of understanding that they might be bringing to the table when you're picking up right where you left off. And then ultimately, you know the impact what is the impact that you want to have in the room? And if you can have the courage to speak from the heart and say the truth of where we are and where we need to go next. Where you can narrate the process courageously by saying things like this is this decision is different than where we landed on? Do we want to, you know, we've taken this decision or no direction do we want to follow that direction? Or do we want to revisit the decision we made earlier, just narrating the process can be an act of courage can be a thing that you speak from the heart with empathy, and it will put you more in control because you're making the implicit in those moments explicit. If they've pulled the conversation off the rails you can say wow, this is this is a very different outcome than I expected. Do we want to follow that or do we want to get back to where we were? narrating the process courageously might be this decision will change the timeline on this project or Are you okay with that? And you're going into that with curiosity, not not that white knuckle kind of control. So I think color. The last part of your question around your being perceived maybe as defensive when you're trying to get it back on the rails is understandable. It's really hard when you go in with a set of expectations, a story to tell and a decision to be made. And things go differently. If you can lead with curiosity, and empathy, and make explicit and clear the targets we're trying to hit, and then facilitate the decisions and discussions, not explain and defend what needs to be done. You might have more success. And you also might be able to hold things a little bit more lightly. So that moments like this, don't destroy you, or you don't feel as if you have to be cornered into defending yourself. Instead, you can just lead with the empathy and curiosity that helps facilitate what needs to happen next, even if what needs to happen next, is out of the expectation you had walking in the room. Sometimes forward can mean going sideways, going back to steps before you reengage and go forward again. Right. Yeah, forward is never a straight line.

Arthur  21:27

We're always going forward through time, even if we're going back to square one with a project. That's right. Well, I think that was great. That was I think that was really helpful. We'll we'll chunk there.

Dia Bondi  21:37

Thank you. Thanks so much. Look, see I did it. I did it again. Alright, thanks so much for listening everybody. See you next time.

Arthur  21:47

This Podcast is a production of Dia Bondi Communications and it's produced and scored by me are thoroughly on Adams the third, you can like share rate and subscribe at Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your favorite podcasts. Find us at D Avante comm or follow us on Instagram at the devonte show. Want to shoot us a question for the show? Call us at 341-333-2997 and maybe you'll hear your question answered on a future episode.

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