Influencing Skills: Plan Your Communications – Part 2 of 4

By Carolyn Crawford

Back again with the second in our series summarising the planning process for influencing.

This blog will also focus on the core communication skills that are so critical to building rapport, trust and hence influencing power.  This time we’ll get into some more detail around the planning process that we recommend you practice by applying to a specific upcoming meeting with a stakeholder.


1. Make sure you’re extremely clear about your own SMART goal heading into the meeting:

a. Who will be involved? Do I need to collaborate with others?

b. What do I want to accomplish both in this immediate meeting and in the longer term?  Is it a realistic timeframe?

c. Where will we have the meeting and when?

d. Why should they consider this course of action? What’s in it for them?

 2. What’s going on in their world?

a. What Pressures are they currently under? What are they working on? What deadlines are they working towards?  What KPIs are they measured on? What else is happening personally or professionally for them?

b. What Position do they have on this issue? Are they for it? Against it? Somewhere in between? And why?

c. Do they have any Prejudices about you? Your business unit? Your organisation?

d. What’s their Personality? (NBI thinking preferences).


1. Make sure you include a variety of questions including at least a couple starting with each of the following prefixes:  Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, Which.

2. Include a feeling-finding question along with your fact-finding questions eg How do you feel about that?  Why is that?

3. Order your questions from ‘big picture’ to more ‘detailed’ and then improvise some check-in questions on the day eg “so let me make sure I’ve got this right.  You’re saying X & Y means Z for your area?”.  You can do this both for your questions that probe around the problem and implications thereof, but also to prompt them towards their own solution.


1. Try to be as fully present as you can in any conversation.  Whether 1-on-1 or as part of a group meeting, give the speaker your fullest attention.

2. Give verbal and body language feedback so they know they’re being heard and understood.

3. ‘Reflectively listen’ by playing back some content and feeling in relation to what they’ve said.  This will solicit further elaboration in the direction THEY would like to take it, where a question takes it down the track of where you want to take it. 

4. Follow on questions are an equally valid listening tool but consciously choose when you want to ‘reflect’ versus ‘question’ as they achieve two different outcomes.


1. Point – make sure you have one!  It should be a one sentence message that ask the other party to think or to do something specific and give them a benefit in doing so.

2. Plan – break your advocacy into ‘chunks’ – 3-4 key headings that you state up front and signpost along the way to make it easy for the other person to follow and digest.

3. Personalise – make the benefits meaningful to the other person or their team or organisation and pre-empt where you can, any concerns you think they may have.


Remember to do an ‘intention check’ so that you feel comfortable and confident that your required outcome is in line with your broader organisational goals as well as your own personal values.

While this may look like a lot of questions, for a simple meeting it shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes to run through them and the benefits in terms of clarity of thought and a sense of confidence and control will thoroughly outweigh the 5 minute investment of time.


Good luck and shoot us an email to let us know how you go.

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