Pitching Sticky Topics to Management

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  1. Know your audience. Discussing potentially sensitive topics with your significant other, your friends, your family, and your colleagues will typically require a different approach for each. When framing up the conversation at work, first, think through known tendencies of your audience (like frequent interruptions, overtalking, defensiveness, dismissiveness) then consider adjusting tone and word choice. When in doubt, keep the tone neutral and say what you mean, without emotion and idioms.
  2. Simple data and visuals. Use a few, meaningful and easy-to-understand statistics paired with visuals, whenever possible. When presented well, data can be memorable and tends to make the topic resonate better with audience members. If worried about scrutiny of the data or your sources, have some backup sources or statistics available that tell a similar story. (”Oh, you don’t like X source? You might be interested to know that Y published similar data…”)
  3. Make it personal. Tell a personal, relatable story or make a hypothetical one up that directly involves one or more of your audience. Reframing the topic to “hit home” gives the audience a chance to think in 3rd person which helps distance them from the subject. If expecting your points to be met with any level of defensiveness, double down here.
  4. Links to more information. When citing information from another source, the importance of crediting your source goes without saying. Doing this also brings few other benefits like adding credibility to your point while giving your audience the option to go back and review at a later time. This works well when citing your own research too, thanks to technologies like Office 365 and the G-Suite.



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Nicole Ellis

Nicole Ellis

Starting conversations about bettering business in a post-pandemic world. Providing resources to help improve business, work-life balance, parenting and more.