Upfront contract for upstanding expectations

It’s so common. 

You’re in a meeting where you have to present an important topic. 

You’re a bit nervous, really excited and you worked darn hard on your speech and supporting materials.

You got this one. 

You start off with your strong opening, dive into your beautiful charts, getting to that one story you know should get your audience on their toes!

But…to your unpleasant surprise your audience looks confused, some of them tapping on their phones, not quite discreetly.

You hear a distant mental yawn and you start sweating. 

What on earth?! You KNOW you prepared well and you were supposed to ACE this.

Suddenly, before you know it, the audience is split into two: those that get on their laptop, pretending to listen, and those that raise their hands to bombard you with questions that have nothing to do with your plan.

You get off-track trying to appease the inquisitive ones…boom time is up.

You didn’t even get to your final, shiny conclusion! 

What a mess. 😩

Well, this is all too common unfortunately and even the best presenters fall into this trap.

What did you miss?

Before you jumped into your speech you forgot something basic and essential: setting expectations with your audience and asking for their approval.

Yes you had a wonderful, well-planned agenda to go through X Y and then Z.

But guess what? Your audience probably had their own expectations on what they wanted to discuss or cover today.

If you don’t do the bare minimum in setting expectations in the beginning you are risking frustrating your audience into boredom and confusion. 

An upfront contract (from Sandler training) aims to help you mitigate this risk of misalignment. 

Start the meeting by outlining what you were planning to do today and ask for your audience’s upfront agreement or commitment to the plan.

“What I was planning to do today is to review the current numbers from the new localized logistics framework, dig into 2021 projections and present to you a few recommendations for performance improvement. By the end of this meeting I’d like us both to be in a position to decide on whether this is a good path to further explore with the team or not. Does this…

  • Sound like a good plan to you or should we change anything on the agenda?” 
  • Match your expectation from the meeting and we’re good to go?”
  • Work for everyone before we start?”

By aligning on expectations and making all sides commit to the plan- you’re likely to have a more engaged audience (commitment automatically raises emotional involvement) and be able to reduce interruptions that throw you off your logical, well-planned track. 


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