I was in a client meeting yesterday reviewing the first draft of a course I was co-designing and then would co-facilitate with them for new Managers at a Global Consulting firm.

The goal of the course is to improve oral communication skills both internally and externally. The ability to communicate with all stakeholders is critical to their firm’s success.

Recent research from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business has reported that the primary cause of managerial failure is ineffective communication skills and the second cause is poor working relationships as a result of low interpersonal skills. My client is determined not to fall into this statistic.

I created three roleplay practice scenarios, where I would ‘play’ the characters. We decided to touch on three common situations:

  1. Crucial conversations with Project Officers
  2. Feedback sessions with Team members
  3. Negotiating with Clients

As we talked thru the scenarios my client said that he thought that one character was “too easy”. He said: “I don’t think this will be challenging enough for our people.”

It’s not what’s on the page, but what ends up on the stage that makes a difference

Instead of having an academic conversation with him about the pros and cons of the learning design, I said: “Let’s try it. I’ll play the character as I imagine her to be and you be the consultant. Let’s see what happens.”

We ran thru the simulation for a few minutes and then he said: “Wow. That was hard. Fun, but challenging. Okay. I get it. Keep it in.”

A moment later he added: “I wish our consultants were able to do this. Just try something quickly in a meeting instead of having to create a 10 page deck to support their ideas.”

Words on a page are not enough. An authentic interaction between two people is what real business success relies upon. Providing an experience is a more powerful way to influence others than persuading them with facts and figures or pages and pages of PowerPoint.

“Try it and see what happens.” That is what practice is all about.