I was just helping my daughter with a college sociology paper. It brought back memories—shudder…The Professor gave them a set of questions difficult questions requiring citation, proof points and analysis of impact yet gave them no more than a page for each question to answer.
The hardest part of the exercise was to keep to one page.
It reminded me of one of my favorite history professors who once told me, after a particularly difficult exam, always answer the question in the first paragraph; never make it seem that what you have written is everything you know, because it isn’t everything there is. And if I think you have written everything you know and that you think it is everything that is, I won’t be that impressed. Get the point?
Those who have worked with me on answering RFP questions know that I am fanatic on this. Answer the question. Less is more. Illuminate the issue but don’t drown it as it could be our answer is not as robust as we think it is, and too much could make us look bad.
Corporate speaking coaches who train CEOs and others for media interviews teach the same notion. Illuminate with concise information. Don’t drown the issue in long winded rhetoric. The longer the wind and rhetoric, the easier it is to lose control of an argument. Watch any interview with anyone and you will see my point.
Clearly, in our own personal lives the same is true. How many times have you said too much? How many times did you want to kick yourself because you had smoothed over a situation, fixed a problem, or calmed down an angry friend only to go one sentence too far—one thought past where you needed—only to find yourself once again in the doghouse (no offense to canines).
Client presentations are the same. Tell me if I’m wrong. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it. You sold it. You had it in your hand and you go one step beyond, and a whole new area of questions and doubts are raised. Or worse, you have nothing, but you need to get it started and you raise the wrong expectation.
I guess that is the whole issue: expectation. If you expect more and there isn’t, disappointment and all that is associated with it sets in. If you set the expectation correctly, and then meet or beat it, it always opens the door for more.
The truth is my daughter started the thought and then I found the quote:
“In the beginning there was nothing. God said, ‘Let there be light!’ And there was light. There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better.”
– Ellen DeGeneres
Imagine if the expectation was a reveal of latest new 6 star hotel in Dubai…where would we be today?
We can never hold all the answers, but we can help get to better ones.
Sometimes there is little or nothing to see but you can get the credit for making the nothing easier to see and understand or you can lose it all with the wrong expectation.
Let there be light!