When you can identify your audience’s motivation, language, and familiarity, you can tailor your message to lead to a more successful outcome. 

This is exactly what Chad did to gain alignment from his peers and move the team forward. When Chad came to me, he was struggling to make progress. He kept getting conflicting stories between the engineering and product management teams. And since they didn’t report to him, he had no authority. Chad was struggling with what I call “how to influence without authority.” 

Have you ever struggled to influence people, or situations, where you aren’t in charge? Or don’t have authority? 

Look, we’ve all either experienced it, or we’re going to experience it. 

Conflicting stories

In Chad’s case, the product manager claimed engineering needed final designs to estimate work and move forward. In the product manager’s view, without the final design, engineering was blocked. 

But when Chad spoke directly to the engineering team, he got a very different message from them. Engineering told Chad that they could start prototyping the functionality without final designs. They just needed something to indicate the overall direction. 

Chad was naturally confused and frustrated. He didn’t know what to do and came to me for help, “Todd, what do I do? How can I convince the product manager that engineering doesn’t need final designs to get started?” 

A new direction

Chad and I worked together to devised a new plan starting with step one of the presenting with confidence blueprint — understanding audience and intent. We identified the motivations of product management and engineering. 

Product management was motivated to stay on schedule and ship something. Engineering, on the other hand, they were motivated to write the least amount of code possible, eliminate waste, and produce something of high quality. 

On the surface, these two motivations seemed at odds. 

Finding alignment 

How did we bring them together? By focusing the conversation on what they had in common — the motivation to ship a product. While they used different language and were focused on different things, by getting them to focus on what they had in common, we could move forward, toward the desired outcome — ship the product. 

How did we do that? Well, Chad called a meeting with the team and set the agenda to “Approval to move forward”. He walked in the room, acknowledged the team was stuck, and proposed a new solution to move them forward. He focused the conversation on what the teams had in common — to ship a product — and then presented a low-to-mid fidelity design concept. 

He got the engineering team to agree they could move forward with what was presented and did it in front of product management. They discussed a few details and addressed questions the teams had right then in there in the room, together. This removed the back-and-forth conversations and conflicting stories. 

They all walked out of the room in alignment, moved forward, and were able to ship the product a few weeks later. And it all started by following step one of the presenting with confidence blueprint — know our audience and intent.

Presenting with Confidence Blueprint

If you’d like to increase your confidence and boost your presentation skills, sign up for my upcoming webinar The Presenting with Confidence Blueprint: How to increase influence and gain buy-in from clients, colleagues, and executives in four simple steps. 

I want to hear from you

When have you experienced conflict? When have you needed to influence when you don’t have authority?

I’d love to hear from you. Share a story of a time you’ve experienced conflict at work, or a situation where you’ve needed to influence others who don’t report to you.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


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Get in touch and let’s discuss how we can help level up your team.