Leadership matters | We are preparing!

This week Gaëtan Namouric, founder of the consulting firm Perrier Jablonski and author of the book Nobody cares what you have to say: The art and (especially) the science of pitchinganswers our questions about leadership.

Posted at 7:00 am

Isabel Mass

Isabel Mass
The press

Q. How important is it for a leader or manager to be persuasive? For his employees as well as for his customers and suppliers?

R We have experienced a significant paradigm shift in just a few years. In the past, the mechanics of running a business were simple. On the one hand it was necessary to sell, on the other hand it was necessary to produce. We had to seduce on the one hand and deliver on the other. The work of persuasion was reserved for the client, the rest was more of an operational nature. But today we lack everything: resources, ideas, raw materials, etc. Managers are constantly pitching (editor’s note: presentation). Pitch to attract clients or employees, pitch to sell ideas externally and internally, pitch to reassure a board of directors, pitch on social media to secure your company’s reputation…

So how do you go about it? When pitching, you have to convince and convince. Rational, Cartesian work is convincing. Convincing is a question of feeling, of emotions: you have to take people with you.

Managers and leaders need to know how to create this subtle mix. The challenge is that we often believe that the other person thinks like we do, that they share our enthusiasm, our knowledge, our courage or our energy. It is wrong. People don’t see things the way you do and you will have to learn to talk to everyone.

Q. What are the keys (and where do you start) to becoming a good leader in terms of speaking and arguing?

R The key is not to start with yourself. When we think of “speaking,” we already see ourselves rehearsing our speech in front of the mirror. This is a mistake I see often. You have to start by putting yourself in the shoes of your audience. What are the needs and concerns of the people before you? Will they fully understand all the technical aspects you cover? What powers and interests do they have for your project? Do you have fears, doubts?

The idea is to prepare as best you can, train yourself to “feel the space” like an artist would on stage.

Then you need to prepare as much as possible. Organize your argument, your arguments, make your pitch “take off” by mobilizing your audience’s imagination… and above all, don’t forget to “land” it with rational and concrete elements. Also, you certainly need to create a visual document to support your remarks. It’s like a set for your game. One keyword: keep it simple, keep it short, hit it hard. Attention: The whole preparation must not become a monologue. You have to improvise. And the more prepared you are, the more available you will be for the unexpected. This mix gives you a palpable confidence, very reassuring for your audience.

Q. What inspired you to write the book? Nobody cares what you have to say ?

R I spent my career in an advertising agency where you spend your time pitching. We develop very good reflexes, but also very bad ones. Why ? Because we only rely on man’s natural talent, since it is innate. It is wrong. And it’s wrong everywhere. I have trained entire cohorts of innovative SMEs, chambers of commerce, various and diverse incubators. And everywhere I saw beautiful stories told terribly badly. The problem is that no one is trained in this practice.

Of course, there have already been books on the subject, but they’re American, and public speaking is a cultural exercise. So I decided to act by doing what I could: sharing knowledge, generating ideas, clearly formulating a thought and giving everything an exciting shape. At Perrier Jablonski, we have delivered hundreds of training courses and workshops. This book is the result of that experience. It’s a compendium of thousands of hours spent with clients. I have used examples, anecdotes, exercises and reflections to create this book. My ambition is clear: I want to help organizations in Quebec become bolder and more creative. To do this, they must learn to present themselves better and to present their ideas. This book aims to make a contribution to that.

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