Do you have an update to share with your boss or a committee. How about an idea to run by a colleague or peer. And are you hoping that your updates and ideas land better and stick better? Well, I’ve seen these conversations break down and plunge deep into the pit of confusion. And I’ve seen conscious leaders successfully climb atop the hill of compelling attention.

The pit of confusion is littered with data dumps, opinions, and half-answers that force your boss or colleague to exhaust their brain while trying to make sense of your message. By contrast, holding their attention and compelling them to stick around takes structure and finesse. Specifically, it takes 4Ps: Problem, Proposal, Plan, and Progress. Let’s climb on.

  1. Problem: Get their attention with a Why

Enroll them by clearly and concisely identifying the problem, before you make a proposal. Wouldn’t you run screaming from a dentist that proposes extracting your tooth before she takes an x-ray? So begin by showing your “x-ray” of the issue, like for example, that your team is inefficient and getting mad at one another because they are still working with sticky notes in excel sheets. Make the other party in your conversation fully aware of the problem and its costs.

“I’ve noticed that our current project management system sows confusion within the team. For instance, last week, we missed a crucial deadline because of outdated information from the system. Delays cost real money, and it is clear that we need a more efficient and user-friendly solution.”

  1. Proposal: Make your offer with a What

Now share your proposal – what your solution looks like. Be concise and use straightforward language – no need for fancy words or jargon. Imagine you’re explaining your proposal to a friend over coffee. Make it crystal clear, just like that one time you gave perfect directions to a new team member.

“To address this problem, I propose exploring new project management software that aligns with our team’s changing needs and workflow. We need a system that allows seamless collaboration, real-time updates, and better task tracking. I believe the right software will eliminate delays and make cut out stress.”

  1. Plan: Chart the path with a How

It’s time to reveal how you’ll pull this off, now that you’ve got their attention and they’re open to your proposal. Take them on a helicopter level journey, sketching out your planned process, avoiding excruciating detail, and sprinkling flexibility into your logical sequence.

“I’m envisioning a four-step plan to implement the new project management system. We’ll start with research to figure out the best-suited software options based for our requirements and budget. We can do a pilot run with sub-group to test the software in our world. We’ll then refine and adjust from the pilot feedback. Lastly, we’ll provide engaging training to ensure that everyone embraces and uses the new system.”

  1. Progress: Keep the momentum with Where We’re At

Updating your boss or colleagues on milestones isn’t an afterthought, it’s an integral part of the process. Sharing progress isn’t bragging; it’s celebrating achievements and acknowledging the team’s work. And don’t shy away from sharing hiccups and bumps, how you and your team overcame them, and the lessons learned. It shows authenticity and fosters trust.

“I want to assure you that I’ll keep you updated throughout the process. I’ll provide regular progress reports on our research, pilot testing results, and the overall implementation timeline. This is how I’m planning to work together to make any necessary adjustments and ensure a successful outcome.”

Pro Tip: Story time

Our brains and hearts are hardwired to connect with stories. Weave compelling narratives and metaphors throughout your presentation to captivate your audience. And if you have the chops for it, add bits of humor to highlight key points. And use visuals where possible like that time we had to make a quick decision based on confusing data, and Jim drew three pie charts on the board to clarify complex information and prevent a mishap.

There you have it, the 4Ps. You can use them on the fly in a five minute conversation, or deliberately to prepare a thirty minute presentation.

So go forth, ye fabulous leaders, and communicate with power and finesse.

In the spirit of wisdom, love, and power