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Take your insights to the top

Get on the Planning Team’s agenda.

Are you reporting your strategic results when the company is focused on execution?  An approach to getting heard is to sync your results with your company’s planning cycles. Get your insights into the annual planning meeting.


Get on the planning agenda…where huge decisions are made.


Top execs will have a planning meeting every year.  Getting on this agenda is easier than you might think.  What planning organizer will turn down an opportunity to hear the year’s top insights?  This is a fantastic way to kick off a strategic planning meeting, get your insights heard and acted upon, and score a few points personally. 


There is a time when management is planning, and there is a time when they are executing against those plans.  If you report results during the execution phase, your insights may be forgotten when planning time comes around.


Our best bet for being heard and influencing strategies is to get our data to those who can use it when they need it — during the senior leadership annual planning phase – even if that data is from a study completed six months earlier. This allows us to influence those large corporate initiatives.

Steps for getting invited to the planning meeting


First, you have to have something to say.  Cull through your research and identify the top 4-6 customer insights of the year and the insights you believe management needs to hear; those few insights that really matter.  The more you try to communicate, the lower the likelihood your insights will be used. 


Next, get on the planning agenda early in the process so you can share your top insights with senior leaders when they are interested in hearing
them and might do something about them. 


You have valuable information. What management group would not be interested in a brief overview of the most critical insights of the year?  And who among them would say he or she doesn’t care what the customer thinks?  I have never seen this fail.


Learn who manages the planning process, then work with this person to get on the agenda. He or she will likely have to run the idea past their management, but given your content, the odds of your inclusion and presentation to decision-makers will be very high.


Here are 6 tips for presenting to this crowd


Don’t structure your presentation like a typical research report.  Here are a few tips for this leadership audience:


1. In this setting, state your point of view with just enough data to support it.  And indeed, not every data point you have. 


2. Make sure the insights are pithy and to the point.  Absolutely not “researchy.” 


3. Bring in other, non-research supporting points if possible – it will add credibility to your points.


4. Avoid method discussions. If you are presenting to this level of the organization, they will trust you can execute properly. If they begin asking method questions, it is a sign they don’t like or agree with your insights. Address the real issue; going into method details will not convince them. 


5. Think through who and why someone might disagree with your points and address this in your presentation. 


6. Be prepared to defend your point of view in the discussion.  It is through this discussion that your knowledge and understanding can shine.


Here are a few resources to help you do this well


Remember, as I stated in a past article, “CEOs are people too,” we now know that decisions are made subconsciously and emotionally and justified rationally.  Thus, if your CEO is a human, he will also decide this way. Integrate more than just logical appeals.  



For more ideas on how to present to senior executives, check out any Nancy Duarte book.  For this topic, I’d recommend the “HRB Guide to Persuasive Presentations.”  


It works


We recommended this approach to a client.  He was added to the agenda last minute. We worked together over the weekend building his Top 10 Insights of The Year. After his delivery, he walked out of the presentation to receive a high-five from his CMO. 


This is precisely where our profession should be – providing insights to those at the top of the company as they are formulating plans and

And it’s even more fun when we can get that high-five.            


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