Solutions for Exam: Understanding Audiences and Managing Stakeholders

Thank you for undertaking the Exam on Understanding Audiences and Managing Stakeholders. Here are the solutions.

You should always think about your audience BEFORE you develop your storyline
True. You should analyse your audience before you start thinking about your storyline. The storyline is a function of the data you have, what you want to achieve and what your audience wants.

One size fits all – you can have one end product for all audiences
False. Sometimes you will have to produce multiple end products – a short email, a presentation pack as well as a report or summary memo or note. Shortcuts, that is, having the same end product for everyone, can be very risky.

An “expressive” will generally want “big picture”
True. Using the Bolton and Bolton framework, expressives will want to see the big picture.

Audiences only fall into one of four categories
False. There are four categories in the Bolton and Bolton framework but remember people are not easily categorised!

You MUST always develop either a presentation pack or paper to communicate with your audience
False. You can be as creative as your imagination allows!

What are the benefits of thinking top-down to create storylines?

Working top down provides all of these benefits: it provides a useful sense of perspective, is usually a faster approach than working bottom-up, and encourages you to clarify your overall purpose before you dig into detail. Depending on your personal style, working top-down will come more or less naturally than working bottom up, but it is important that you practice both techniques.

What are the benefits of working bottom-up to create storylines?

Working bottom-up delivers all these benefits: it provides an opportunity to test the story's logic at all levels, it encourages deep thought about the content, and provides the opportunity to be across the detail. Working bottom-up is likely to be instinctive for Analyticals and less appealing for Expressive or Driver personalities, but it is important for all types to practice this technique.

Some styles are “better” than other styles.

False. Each style has it's strengths and weaknesses, and needs to learn to flex to the other styles for effective communication to be achieved.

Humanity is spread relatively equally across all four styles.

True, with many people being a combination of styles.

Do you prefer the detail or big picture when preparing communication at work?

There is no “correct” answer here, this question is just to prompt you to think about your own style.

What makes you feel like you have had a great day at work?

Again, think about where your response places you in relation to the defined styles.

How many people will you try these ‘style flexing' techniques with this week?
We recommend trying these techniques with only a few people this week – perhaps 1 or 2 and then reflecting on the results before trying them again.

Are you likely to make similar or different accommodations for each of these people?
Make different accommodations for each person, as they may all be different styles of people.

Which order should you use to communicate your ideas?
Message first, background last is the most effective.

Amiables typically prefer….
Anecdotes. This speaks to an Amiable's enjoyment of personal interaction and of knowing other people well. Anecdotes also provide a picture to frame their understanding of an issue or a concept.

Analyticals typically prefer…
Lots of detail. Analytical people get great pleasure from ‘getting things right' and this is difficult to do if they are not across all the detail. When communicating to Analyticals, it is important to help them see that you are ‘right', and at times to allow them to come to the right conclusion based on your detailed data.

Drivers typically prefer…
Action. Drivers enjoy the sense of completion that comes from ticking tasks off their list and as a result have a strong bias toward ‘getting things done'. Anything you can do to help them ‘get things done' will help you build rapport with a driver.

Expressives typically prefer…
High energy presentations. Expressive people enjoy colour, movement and energy and so naturally relate to others when they present information that incorporates these elements.

Your story should aim to answer one question. Whose perspective should you ask the question from?
Take your audience's perspective. This will help you create a story that really engages them, rather than a story that engages you.

Rita

Rita is Analytical, taking care to look at every detail of the data before she puts together her sales plan and remaining focussed on her work even when a colleague enters her office. To engage with Rita, you should avoid rushing her to present a plan that she feels is not fully researched; it may be effective to show that you have based your proposal on research too, and provide the data you have used.

Jane

Jane is Amiable. This setting indicates that she is comfortable placing a higher priority on helping another colleague with personal problems than on your work.

Roger

Roger is an Expressive, with a preference for a joke or chat and dynamic, big-picture tasks. He will struggle to focus on the audit and report due by Friday, as, although he is probably a valuable employee in other ways, detail work is just not his “thing”.

Bernard 

Bernard is an Analytical, with an eye for detail and a strong appreciation for controlled situations.

Dave

Dave is very Amiable. He as expressed great interest in you and your project, but is easily distracted from it by concern for another colleague and their program. He is genuinely interested in all, but may have trouble prioritising.

Robert

Robert is Expressive; he is loud and effusive, a big “presence” in the office with both his voice and his body language. He is interested in the work being done by various team members, and is not a stickler for meeting protocols.

Alice

Alice is a Driver. The description shows Alice is very results oriented, pragmatic, and highly effective in terms of getting things done. At the same time, she has the potential to be curt when under pressure, because (perhaps subconsciously) she values her work achievements more highly than her personal relations with her colleagues. All of these characteristics are indicative of her being a Driver.

Rick

Rick sounds like a Driver; he is very focussed on achieving the delivery of this project on time and to a high standard. If he is in control and conscious of every minute, he is able to block out distractions such as personal interactions and focus purely on the task. To engage Rick in your own project at this time, you need to be short, sharp and action oriented. DO NOT chat about the weekend or offer up a funny story – he does not want to hear it!

Graham

Graham is an Analytical, a valuable team member with an enjoyment of detail work and a quiet manner. He dislikes the pressure and attention of presenting to the Board. You could give him some confidence by having him rehearse his presentation in front of you, and also reviewing his presentation to be sure he does not include TOO much detail, as that will cause the Board to lose interest. He will naturally expect the Board to feel a need for detail, so you may need to be firm in suggesting some edits of the presentation.