How to convince your board in three seconds

first impressions

You are just about to walk into the board room and present the paper you’ve been working on for the past 2 months.  First impressions last and its time to convince the board.

What’s running through your head?  You skim over your proposal, review the potential push backs, run through your prepared responses, take a few deep breaths, and do one final check in the mirror before you walk through that door.

You know the paper is rock solid, but your delivery is crucial.  You’ve only got one chance to impress, and you’re relying on your delivery for that.

So how can you convince your board in three seconds?

First impressions are crucial

But why?

Psychologists tell us that people make up their minds about someone within 3 seconds of meeting them.

Regardless of who you are, you’re seemingly judged on your initial appearance.  Even if you aren’t a sleazy second-hand car salesman.

And it’s these initial assessments that can have the most profound impact on the rest of your conversation with them, even your relationship.

It’s called confirmation bias, and we are all susceptible to it.

Confirmation: the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.

It doesn’t just apply to people either.

First impressions last

In the first 3 seconds of looking at someone, you’ve made your mind up whether you like them or not.

It’s subconscious and takes a lot of effort to dissuade yourself that you like someone who you first disliked.

The same applies to anything really:

  • Art
  • Houses
  • Landscapes
  • Even in business

Business papers, reports, applications, or dashboards that are not engaging will turn you away.  Tedious and dull looking business reports or computer screens make your brain disengage.

Your brain decides that the effort required to decipher what is on the screen into meaningful information is just not worth it.

If you’ve read Daniel Kahneman’s ”Thinking, Fast and Slow’ you’ll be familiar with this

So, it takes the easy option and simply says ‘meh’ despite how valuable the substance behind the facade may be.

Conversely, if the report or dashboard looks enticing, the brain will engage and take notice.  There doesn’t even need to be any substance behind it or truth.  Your brain just sucks in all that ‘information’ and enjoys it.

The problem is it’s all too easy to create an uninteresting and dull report.  Let’s face it; the default graphs in Excel are far from sexy even if you know that creating a cohesive dashboard, or engaging report, requires a lot of effort.

Possessing design skills is a significant benefit here, but many of us struggle with this.

The secret formula

If you are the curator and you really want to get your message across, you have to grab peoples’ attention.

We are taught this all through school, yet so few follow the rules.

So few do it well, and impressive design skills are very rare.

We asked one of our favourite designers, Garett McGillivray from Aucadian to give us the insiders view.

Other than spending a few years becoming a pro, we asked him for the insiders view on:

  • Why “F” is the magic letter in design
  • How much should you fill the page or screen
  • Rules for using the right colour palette
  • How important are logos imagery and corporate branding

Here are a few tips to steer you in the right direction: Four essential design concepts

Put these into practice and see if you can convince your board in three seconds.

If you fail in epic proportions, give Garett a call.