Today I was reminded of a critical presentation skill while watching Gene Veno, Executive Vice President of the PA Chiropractic Association. Veno had a mere 10 minutes to state his position about a proposed insurance merger before the PA Department of Insurance. Since I had consulted with Veno regarding his testimony, I took the opportunity to see him in action. Veno’s testimony was a success, and in this case at least, his success had very little to do with my consultation.
Veno submitted the written testimony we had worked on, then he used his 10 minutes to extemporaneously address his three main points. Veno was clear, concise, and on-target. These things contributed to his success, but none was the essence of his success.
At the end of Veno’s testimony, Pennsylvania’s Insurance Commissioner, Joel Ario, said how much he appreciated Veno’s involvement with his committee. The Commissioner said something like this, “We appreciate that you bring up specific issues we need to deal with. What’s more, you come with solutions and experience that we can apply to those issues.”
Essentially, the Commissioner said to Veno, “We listen to what you say because you are positive, specific, practical, and helpful. We pay attention to individual pieces of communication you send our way because of the context you have established.”
It’s a powerful presentation and influence tip: any individual presentation, no matter how perfect or polished, can stand or fall because of the overall context of the relationship. The context you establish is critical to success.