Key Techniques for Dynamic Discussion Leaders

Aug 09, 2023

by Corey Hansen
Having facilitated hundreds of briefings and leading discussions from company overviews to detailed solution demonstrations, I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with some excellent Discussion Leaders. They may be called “presenters” or “speakers” but ultimately, they serve to stimulate conversation with customers on the path to solid decision-making.

Take a moment to think about those you observe who best engage with customers in briefings or meetings. What are they doing? How do they do it?
Along with your observations, here are some techniques I’ve noticed. Dynamic Discussion Leaders, before and during the briefing:
  • Learn everything they can about the customer prior to creating or customizing content
  • Ask key questions of the account team, like “How do I best support discussions that really make a difference in our customer’s buying decision?”
  • Build breathing room into their content and delivery, allowing customers to take in the message and respond
  • Divide their content into thought sequences and pause for responses at the end of each sequence
  • Establish expectations for dialogue in the beginning of their discussion (think beyond the often used, “I want this to be interactive.”)
  • Assume there are questions/comments and use open-ended questions for response, like “What questions or comments do you have?” rather than “Do you have any questions?”.
  • Give time for customers to question or comment. 1-2 seconds is not enough time to allow for responses!
  • Observe non-verbal customer cues that may indicate a guest would like to chime in and may just need a friendly nudge to do so
And the best make time to REHEARSE! There’s no better prep for great customer interactions than practicing content out loud at least three times before the gig. Like a performing artist or athlete, drilling prior to performance gets the mind and body in sync and ready to improvise as situations demand.

Helping customers make smart buying decisions is foundational to the success of briefing programs. Discussion Leaders prepared to deliver, listen, and respond, play a key role. By practicing and applying simple techniques, Discussion Leaders can optimize their effectiveness in leading fruitful and revealing customer conversations.

Corey Hansen is a coach, trainer, creative, and actor who blends strategy and techniques from theatrical and corporate stages to help briefing professionals and business communicators deliver their most confident and engaging performances.