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Key Takeaways

  • Every conversation has negotiation potential. Influencing team alignment and collaboration is more productive than issuing orders.
  • Different negotiation scenarios come with unique challenges - be it with universities and scientists, pharmaceutical companies, or vendors and contract organizations. Fair and respectful treatment is critical.
  • Despite AI advancements, mastering written communication remains vital, as it reflects individual nuances, enhances verbal communication, and aids relationship building.
  • Personal settings are preferred for sensitive or difficult conversations. Understanding the audience and their potential reactions is crucial when delivering powerful presentations.
  • Distinguishing between the preparation of a presentation document and the act of presenting is important. Thorough preparation, considering the audience and their potential reactions, leads to successful presentations.

Executive Summary:

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a brand new installment of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. Our guest today is Juliette Han, the CFO and COO at Cambrian Bio. Juliette has also served as the Chief of Staff at Two Sigma Private Investments Group. 

Previously, she has been the COO of People Human Resources at Hedge Fund Citadel and the Chief of Staff for McKinsey New Ventures at McKinsey and Company. As far as her educational background is concerned, Juliette holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University and an MS and BS in physiological sciences from UCLA. 

With that said, let’s jump right in.

From Bench Science to Career Success: Juliette’s Journey of Professional Transformation

Firstly, Aram asks Juliette to share her professional journey. The latter responds by highlighting how her 11-year academic journey, predominantly in bench science, significantly influenced her professional path. Despite entering the professional world later than most and initially having to play catch-up, Juliette notes that her maturity level and extensive experience led to significant personal growth and self-reflection. 

She emphasizes that her background, combining both education and practical experience, has been instrumental in her successful career. 

Negotiation and Collaboration: The Core of Juliette’s Leadership at Cambrian Bio

Subsequently, Juliette discusses her role as CFO and COO at Cambrian Bio and how negotiation skills factor into her work.

Juliette’s daily duties are diverse, spanning traditional CFO and COO responsibilities like HR, communications, legal, and finance. Given her science background, she also works closely with R&D and business development teams, despite them not reporting directly to her.

Juliette believes every conversation, including internal ones, can be a negotiation. She distinguishes between explicit and implicit negotiations and applies this mindset to all her interactions with her teams. She argues that influencing others to work in the same direction is more productive than issuing orders. 

This approach allows team members to anticipate problems (like ‘icebergs’) and develop solutions that may even surpass their own ideas.

Additionally, she emphasizes the importance of understanding and incorporating the perspectives of quieter or less assertive team members. By doing so, leaders can build a reputation for fairness and reasonableness. This reputation aids negotiations, preventing defensive reactions and fostering more collaborative discussions.

Balancing Distinct Challenges in University, Pharma, and Vendor Relations for Cambrian Bio’s Success

Moving on, Juliette breaks down the different types of negotiations she engages in and the unique challenges each one presents. She identifies three main categories:

#1 Negotiations With Universities And Scientists 

Juliette describes the challenge in aligning long-term visions, particularly with scientists who may have spent decades working on a specific technology. It’s a careful negotiation involving the scientist’s vision, the university’s revenue goals, and Cambrian Bio’s need for a fair deal.

#2 Negotiations With Big Pharma Companies 

Here, Juliette emphasizes the importance of having a long-term mindset and being mindful of contracts. There’s also the need to consider the possible secondary and tertiary outcomes of transactions, given how drugs often switch hands between companies.

#3 Negotiations With Vendors & Contract Research Organizations (CROs) 

In this scenario, Juliette opposes the common approach of treating vendors and CROs poorly because they are the paying party. She stresses the importance of helping these entities see Cambrian Bio as a company that matters.

Answering Aram’s question about the challenges of aligning external negotiations with internal goals, she emphasizes the need to align the team around the principles rather than specific numbers. She believes it’s important to present a range of possibilities and a clear direction of how they want the negotiating partner to perceive the company. It’s all about creating a productive alignment and a win-win situation.

The Indispensable Value of Mastering Written Expression Amid AI Advancements

In response to Nolan’s question about mastering written communication, Juliette states her belief that this skill will remain critically important, even with the advancements of AI like ChatGPT. She lists several reasons to support her argument:

  • AI, like ChatGPT, may not capture an individual’s unique voice, style, and relational nuances, making personal writing even more desirable.
  • Writing improves verbal communication. A good writer can express ideas succinctly and commit to their words. This meticulousness in writing enhances clarity and precision in speech.
  • Effective writing helps deliver crisp messages without evoking unwanted emotions, thus building relationships.

Highlighting her experiences from different careers, Juliette talks about the struggles of writing in academia and corporate settings. In academia, the language is often esoteric, filled with technical jargon, and less focused on the audience’s understanding of the broader narrative. On the other hand, corporate writing can sometimes lack crispness and commitment to ideas and may be too filled with jargon or lacking in facts.

She suggests that being aware of these differences and critically reflecting on one’s writing skills can help individuals adapt their style according to their environment, improving their communication effectiveness.

Juliette’s Guidelines for Navigating Difficult Conversations

Moving on, Juliette and Aram discuss the guidelines for choosing the right modality for communication. According to Juliette, the further the gap in stance or relationship with a person, the more personal the chosen mode of communication should be.

This means that if the conversation is expected to be uncomfortable or difficult, it should ideally be conducted in a more personal setting, such as a face-to-face meeting, rather than via email or text. Juliette suggests that people tend to rely on impersonal methods of communication, like emails, to deliver uncomfortable messages because they fear human interaction. However, she posits that this fear is an indication that a more personal approach is needed.

Aram agrees with Juliette’s perspective, expressing gratitude for the guidelines and the idea that pushing past discomfort in communication can lead to better outcomes. These insights emphasize the importance of choosing the right communication channel based on the nature of the message and the relationship with the recipient.

Juliette’s Insights on Audience Understanding and Sensitivity in Delivering Powerful Messages

Next, the speakers discuss the important aspects of making a powerful presentation. Juliette clarifies that there’s a difference between a presentation document and the act of presenting that document, noting that they serve different purposes and should be prepared differently.

She emphasizes the importance of understanding the audience deeply, going beyond just a surface-level knowledge of who they are. She suggests considering their context, biases, level of information on the topic, and incentives. Only once these factors are understood should the presenter think about what they want the audience to take away.

Juliette also suggests that it’s important to consider the audience’s feelings and reactions. If the presentation is about a topic that could potentially embarrass or upset members of the audience, the presenter should be careful to avoid doing so. To ensure this, Juliette recommends conducting deep research and syndication – pre-sharing the presentation with those who may react badly or be sensitive to the content.

She concludes by stating that the preparation work, including understanding the audience and considering their reactions, is just as important, if not more so, than the actual act of presenting.

Juliette, Aram, and Nolan delve into a wide range of topics. We invite you to share your thoughts on this highly informative podcast by emailing us at team@negotiatex.com.

Thank you for your time! 


Nolan Martin : Hey everyone, welcome to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. I am your co-host, co-founder Nolan Martin. With me as always, co-host, co-founder Aram Donigian. Aram, do you want to kick the episode off for today?

Aram Donigian : I will. Thanks Nolan. Hey folks. Last fall, I was finishing teaching and reading through final project presentation papers and as I was taking a break from reading these papers and thinking about how my students write and communicate through written word, I came across this article on LinkedIn. It was a CNBC article about how important written communications are to our ability to influence. I just loved it and so I looked at the author and I said, I gotta look up this person, you know, who is she? Found out she's pretty amazing and that we could learn a lot from her, not just about written communications but some other things that she does in her professional career. I said, I gotta get her to come on. And so this show's been by six, nine months in the making and really excited to welcome Juliette Han to our program.

Juliette is the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Cambrian Bio. Han was previously the Chief of Staff at Two Sigma Private investments Group, the private investments division of the hedge fund Two Sigma. Prior to Two Sigma, Han was a Chief Operating Officer of People Human Resources operations at Hedge Fund Citadel, where she led strategic thinking behind performance and teams. Prior to Citadel, Han was Chief of Staff for McKinsey New Ventures at McKinsey and Company and had a strategy and commercialization consultant in the New York offices pharmaceutical practice.

Han holds a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University as well as an MS in physiological sciences and a BS in neuroscience and physiological science, both from UCLA. She serves on the Alumni Advisory Council of Harvard Medical School, Division of Medical Sciences and an academic advisor. She's also an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. Juliet, thank you for joining us on the podcast today.

Juliette Han : Thank you for having me. I'm very excited to be here.

AD : Well, we're so excited to have you too. That's a pretty incredible bio. It's like you're mining and like this is a great article mining you find out like, wow, this author is just incredible. We know you're busy. So you know, before we get into really any questions, you know, what else could you tell us about your background and your own journey and story that might be important for our listeners to kind of understand kind of the context for kind of having you on today and the things that have influenced your thinking?

From Academia to Industry: Reflections on Personal Growth and Professional Maturity (03:04)

JH : I do think that much of my professional journey has been shaped by my academic journey as well. So when you come out of academia and some people later or earlier than others, for me it was after about 11 years of bench science and coming into the professional world, you're not also given the same understanding as you're given when you're 22 and just out of college. So there is a lot of catching up to do at the same time you do enter a different type of maturity. So I would say a lot of self-growth and self-reflection comes from a lot of that experience.

AD : Yeah, it's that combination of education, reflections of study time, and then experience, right? And being able to put a lot of things into practice and, we're going to dig into all your practices so.

JH : Absolutely. Great

NM : So Julia, I was hoping you could share a little bit about Cambrian and what you do on a daily basis as the CFO, COO, and how negotiation skills, especially around influence and persuasion show up in your work in your business.

Negotiating With Influence: Approaching Every Conversation Strategically (04:03)

JH : Absolutely. You know, I love this question. You guys are negotiation experts and I know you had amazing guests on here. The way I think about it is that when I used to think about negotiations, I used to think of it as a very transactional, in time, very defined thing. But now the way I look at it is every conversation is a negotiation, including the conversation you have in your own head with yourself.

So, how I like to think about it is perhaps explicit versus implicit negotiations. I'll say that's the best way I think about how I approach my job. So first my remit as to what I do on day-to-day. That's a great question. I cover what you would expect of a CFO, COO, like corporate functions including HR, communications, legal aspects of finance, and I also work closely with the other departments, especially given my science background.

Science is ultimately a language and doctrine of thought, so I'm able to work closely with our R&D team. We do have sourcing and business development teams, so those are teams I work closely with cross-functionally as well. And even if they don't report to me. So how I like to think about every communication I have with my teams or people not on my teams is that of influence, and you want them to do things in a way that rows in the same direction.

So, if you are just ordering people to do something because you have the authority to do that. Fine, you might get something tactical done, but really if you approach someone with a negotiation mindset of influencing them to row in the same direction, I promise you they will look out for icebergs themselves and grow in a better direction than you even thought of. And one thing I do want to also point out is that there are people who are very vocal in organizations and you know exactly what they want, exactly what they think and what their incentives are, but sometimes, especially whether it be because they're of lower ranks or they're timid or they're introverted like myself, it's important for you to reach out and understand those people's mindsets and those may be the people that you want to think about incorporating in your thinking. And if you do that, I do think that helps you build a reputation of a fair and just leader.

And ultimately that's the reputation that you want when you approach a negotiation of someone saying this is a fair person and a reasonable person instead of someone getting extremely defensive.

AD : There was a lot in that answer in terms of, the power of influence and the importance of, you know, understanding others' mindsets, thinking about who you pull into a conversation who may not be getting pulled in right now. The idea of a reputation being fair and just as a leader. Pretty critical stuff there.

The one thing that jumped out to me, I know we're going to get to this a little bit, you said you're an introvert, which is hard to believe, but we understand these things are kind of on a, spectrum, right? So we'll talk more about introversion in just a little bit. Let’s go take, if you could just get a little more granular for a moment. You talked about the different places negotiation influence show up for you both internally around some of the corporate functions, certainly with R&D and business development. I assume there may be other external negotiations with supply chain and others partners you're working on with research and so forth.

What do you find most challenging about the negotiations that you are in? Whether they are kind of the big negotiation that's very explicit that everybody's prepping for and you know, or it's the more day-to-day, you know, maybe what you're calling more implicit sort of negotiations. What are most challenging for those?

Beyond Immediate Outcomes: The Art Of Long-Term Negotiations (07:44)

JH : Yeah, so I want to outline perhaps externally, especially three types of negotiations I see day to day and then the difference in how they're difficult and what I'm trying to achieve with each of them.

So, the first type of negotiations we often do is with universities and transfer offices and scientists, and I'll go into what that means and specificity around that. The second type I think about is transactions with big pharma companies. So we are a smaller company, but there are definitely synergies and partnerships to be had with big pharma companies. And then the third is perhaps the more vendor-like contract research organizations, CROs, that are very common in the industry.

So, the first one with the universities, I don't want to call them a difficulty, I like to call them fun challenges, is when you're speaking to a scientist who've worked on a technology for 20, 30, 40 years, they're coming from a fundamentally different place than a partner who's just looking for what's the best bang for my buck. And at the same time, the goal that you want to achieve is not paying them right away. We're saying, look, let's take a risk on this amazing technology we've been working on and let's try to develop it into a drug. And because it's a high risk science, you really need to be aligned on the long-term vision. So often in negotiations in what we think about negotiations, the outcomes are immediate and obvious.

But in these type of negotiation with the scientists, you're saying, look, what does the next 10 years look like, the outcome of this potentially in this high risk endeavor, and do we see the same way? And if you're dealing with someone who has been working on this beautifully for 30 years, how do you get them to see that vision with you? I would say that that's pretty tough. And of course you have the university intermediaries for whom it's a revenue generator. So, they do have a money, making mindset as they should. That's how universities fund their research. So I would say that that's a tripod of a challenge that we carefully negotiate. And then coming from a scientist background, I feel a lot for these scientists and I think that scientists need to be paid fairly. So I think building a reputation of fairness is absolutely critical here.

The second one is with the big pharma and potential partnerships with the big players in your industry. So that one, you have to be long-term minded. So there you might feel like the small shrimp in the sea and they're the big whale. At the same time, you can't nickel and dime because you also want to build the long-term partnership mindset with them. And instead of just getting the deal done, you have to be very mindful about the contracts and what contract I sign today may have repercussions on the future. So that one is where you're not just thinking about the contracts as written today, but as you know, a lot of drugs switch hands between these companies.

So, how does my transaction impact the secondary and tertiary outcomes of that transaction? And being a really ultimate chess player in that scenario, I'll say that is the biggest fun challenge for that.

The ones with the vendors and CROs, I often think that because you're the paying party, people treat these vendors and CROs pretty badly. And I absolutely disagree with that approach, especially when you are a small player, they have much bigger contracts that they can optimize for. And in science when they don't optimize for you because you're small, that's a matter of 12 months even or 24 months of being in, waiting in queue to be processed. So how do you help them see you as someone who matters? I think that's the fun challenge with these contract organizations.

AD : That's fantastic. The big picture view that you're painting on all three of those externally facing negotiations, just really strikes with me. Again, you kind of, you know, this piece about the reputation, but the big perspective, second and third order effects, does it ever get difficult with kind of as you negotiate externally and you think about second and third order effects of decisions you're going to make on then bring that back in internally and have the internal alignment conversation about what we need to do with any one of those like kind of three partnerships?

JH : Yes, because your internal stakeholders who are not on the front lines may not see the conversations that are happening live and it's just like any other conversation. If you weren't there, you don't know. So it's hard to boil down a lot of the human sentiments and aspects of the conversations into a bullet form and they'll say, well, why didn't you just push for this?

So I do think that we end up on the backend, if you happen to be on the backend, I think that you have to be much more understanding of the limitations in the room, as of what's happening in that moment. So I think that often what is most important before you go into negotiations, if you have a team that's waiting for the answer, is to align them around the principles. I think often people go in and say, look, I'm going to try to get these numbers and this number, and then that's, we're going to call that a win. I think a way better way to align your team is to say, look, here's a range of what we can do, but really principally what we want is for this player to see us this way, without us losing something that we can't give away. I think that's a way better way to align your team to work in a more productive manner.

AD : Absolutely. Yeah. That resonates well with our thinking and the work we've done both military and corporately.

NM : Absolutely. Thank you for that. So I know, Aram mentioned that last fall you released an Instagram video that talked about written communication and is picked up by CMPC. Congratulations for that. Why do you believe that so strongly in the importance of mastering written communication and what do you see as the keys of effective writing in general?

Striking the Balance And Achieving Successful Transition From Esoteric Writing In Academia To Crisp Corporate Written Communication (13:48)

JH : Especially with ChatGPT, some people wonder if written communication will be any more that skills will be any more important. And I think if anything it will be even more important. And here's a couple reasons why and what that means to answer your question.

So one is you can't pause and ask ChatGPT to write a quick text or email every single time. I think Microsoft is working on that to integrate that type of language into that. But we can already see that it doesn't have your voice or style yet. And even if you can adopt that, I'm not sure if it has the nuances of your relationship with this particular person. All the knowledge you have of other types of interactions you have with this person outside of that email thread. And then number two is that really, as much as there's standardization with ChatGPT around some of the writing that gets put out there, I think a very stylized personal writing now becomes high in pursuit.

It's kind of like how restaurant industry. Sure, the first time we had the mass production of food, it made it more available to others. But that made, if anything, a high-end dining even more desirable because that's something you can't pursue. So I want everyone to see writing skills that way when something becomes commonplace, when you're good at it, it becomes even more desirable.

Now having said that, the reason why I think written communication is so important is that it actually makes your verbal communication even better. People who write well can also speak well. And what writing does is it forces you to be succinct and commit to those words. In speaking as , even now, I can say a few words that I don't necessarily need. I don't have to use the perfect diction, but if I were to write this out as an article, I would probably have to commit to every sentence structure. So it forces you to practice that doctrine of double checking facts, making sure the sentiments are clear, and the nuances in which the verbal communications does not.

So effective writing delivers the crisp messages without evoking unwanted emotions and reactions and it helps build relationships. So there are different types of struggles when people write, and I've seen across different career transformations I had. So for instance, in academia, we write in very esoteric language. So we have all the scientific research that no one outside of science really knows. and it's all about how smart you can sound and how much facts you can throw out there. And not a lot about narrative and the audience.

Now, it has a lot of data, but as you can see it lacks direction or overarching so what. Now there's an opposite issue in the corporate writing that lacks crispness. You know, we hear, we talk about jargon and it lacks commitment to ideas and sometimes it doesn't even have the right facts.

So I do think that if you are aware of these differences, so, I became astutely aware of these differences when I made a transformation and how I had to really evolve the way I think and write. So I would love for everyone to really critically reflect on your writing skills and what has been required of you and whether that is the style is the best way forward in your environment.

AD : And you said, was there an instance that you were just referencing that kind of really brought this attention for you? Like for you personally? Was there something that happened?

From Direct to Decisive: Building Conviction In Your Email Communication (17:25)

JH : That's a really great question. Let me tell you something that I, there's a lot of moments actually when I came out of academia that was like, it just demonstrated for me what an ostrich in the head in the sand I was. But there was this moment I left academia and I was at McKinsey, it was one of my first projects, maybe a couple months in I was working with this phenomenal manager and they asked me to together this analysis by the way, and this is why McKinsey likes to hire former academics because we're very thorough and we're not daunted by, you know, hundreds of pages of facts, to put together. So, I was running this data analysis and I was taking a while and I showed my manager this data and it had error bars, so these graphs.

And I was like, well here's a thousand data points. I did this fancy analysis on, with this error bars. And she looked at me and she said, what are these little things? And I said, these are error bars that shows you confidence interval. And she's like, yeah, we don't do that here, and I don't need ‘n=1000’. Like we just need to know enough to make decisions. And the management decides the confidence interval and which is absolutely true, right? The management is to say, 'Hey, here's some data, I don't need all that much because I don't have time to wait for analysis to be done in two weeks and I'm going to build conviction around how much I believe in this data is going to happen again’. So, for me that was a huge aha moment. At first I was like, I can't believe if I put forward any analysis that has no error bars. In academia, I'll be like thrown out of the window immediately. So it made me realize what a difference there is in terms of how people build conviction around their hypothesis.

AD : Thanks for that. You discussed writing decisive emails in your article. This is so relevant as so many negotiations or other conversations these days happen over email. Could you describe how a decisive email differs from how we typically write emails? Are they more direct? Do they have more influence somehow? How do they actually look different?

JH : Yes. Very great question. I want everyone to think of every email in some ways as decisive emails. Because ultimately what are you communicating if you're not driving towards some decision, even if you're, communicating with your friends where to go to dinner. So when we say someone is decisive, we immediately think of, that means it's direct and I am going to communicate to you exactly the answer I want. It could not be further from the approach. The decisive emails to me means that you are driving someone to make the decision that you agree with.

So, what does that mean? If you just tell someone, let's do this, the likelihood of them saying, ‘yeah, let's do that’, it's pretty low, right? So decisions aren't just yes and no. So you need to align people to the same context, give consideration or acknowledgement of their stance and bring people along to the decision. So you're painting the world for them in which your decision just makes the best sense. So most emails when we think of, I'm going to drive towards a decision, it's all about my stance, my decision and what's in it for me. And that's not decisive. It drives people away from that decision. So you need to write an email that it really has context and don't falsely assume that delivering a finite message equals decisiveness.

AD : Yeah, I think that's a trap, right? That message sent equals message received. But if you don't establish context, if you don't put it in a place where it's going to be received by the reader, with where they are, you miss the boat. I'm going to guess you've had experience maybe writing the wrong email. Have you ever written one that you wish you had back but maybe you shouldn't have sent it or just could have been better? Yeah, any thoughts there?

Effective Email Communication: Beyond Words, Embracing Empathy (21:26)

JH : So look, I have regrets all the time when I send that email, I'm like, oh, I wonder if I should have said it this way. I do think, over time that made me a better writer. Now having said that, there's a couple things that I do now that I know wasn't best practice for me when I had those regrets. I have those regrets when I write back too quickly on something that wasn't urgent. So I'm so excited to get my thoughts and my message out there that I didn't do enough of not just proofreading, but thinking more deeply and broadly.

So what I do now is I have a draft going immediately just to get the thought started and then go on about my day. And often these emails aren't that urgent unless they really are and come back and add things in or take even more important, take some stuff out. So I would really, espouse for taking the time to write something and not just staring at it, but just walk away and coming back and adding things. By the way, the times that I think people, myself included, regret writing the email the most is because maybe it shouldn't have been an email. In fact the first step to writing a great email is to decide whether it should be an email at all.

I think we get so comfortable with emails or texts that all of us, many of us actually some of us are not, are a little bit allergic after, especially after the last few years on human interaction, including zoom or slack or just calling. Now the phone rings and you're like, well I don't even know my phone was on, in the last 10 years. So I do think that even if you are to write an email and want to put something in writing, some of these things go down so much better when you just call someone and deliver a message first and just hear their reaction and just let them down softly versus they're guessing at what your intentions are. An email comes across honestly a little inhumane no matter how warmly you put it, no matter how you sign off with it. So I do think that before you write that email, the first question is, should I call this person first? And I don't think we do that enough. And that brings the humanity into relationships.

AD : Do you have other guidelines? I love this, this idea that my first step to write a good email is asking whether I should do it at all. Do you have guidelines as you choose modality? And you're right, we're living in a crazy time, right? There's so many options when it comes to we could do this by Zoom or some other form of like, you know, Teams or virtual whatever. We can do this by email, we can do this over text, with phone call. We could try to meet in person. There's just so many more forms of like modalities. Do you have guidelines that go through your thinking about this relationship, this issue, this topic, whatever, this drives the modality that we need to have this conversation in?

Embracing Human Interaction in Difficult Conversations (24:17)

JH : I think so. Absolutely. So I think if anything, further you are from where you need to get to more closer in physicality, you need to be, I would say that's a really good framework. So the farther in stance or relationship you are and more uncomfortable you feel with this person, more humane you need to make it.

Now, traveling isn't an option for a lot of people and it could be on Zoom. So I highly encourage everyone to start off on Zoom. The more uncomfortable you feel on Zoom. So what you have allergic reactions to, I would say is probably what you should do. It's probably a good framework and I think that people end up relying on emails to deliver an uncomfortable message because they feel fearful of the human interaction. That is precisely the moment you should deliver it in person.

AD : Yeah. Thank You.

NM : That's great. Definitely want to make a chart that kind of describes that. Because I think that's going to be very useful as a framework to think through, ‘when and when not to email’. So thanks for that. So you also talk about creating powerful presentations. We know there may be a number of reasons to create a presentation, provide an update to key stakeholders, ask a decision on a proposal, request more resources for a project and so on.

What is it that makes a presentation powerful? Why is it so critical to get it right from an influence perspective and what attention should be given to who the audience is going to be when preparing a presentation?

From Pre-reads To Live Presentations: Tailoring for Maximum Impact (25:52)

JH : Hmm. So first of all, I think a presentation document, I want to just clarify. There's presentation in terms of presentation document. And then there's an actual presentation of a document. I think those are different. So for example, you might be asked to put together a presentation because it will be read or be sent as a pre-read versus presenting something. So I want to first get everyone to clarify what you're being asked to do. Because I think one of the mistakes people make is assumption around those two things being the same. Two things could not be more different. Things that need to be read in a lot of documents actually is very beautiful on the slide, even if they're red, just because you have a lot of illustrations and graphics and have a lot of explanations. So those are presentation style that you can think about leveraging in addition to Word document, and other types.

So, that is very different from a presentation you give. Now, having said that, I think, so there's some dogmas that stay consistent across those two formats. Number one, and you're going to hear this anyone you ask is number one is to understand the audience. Now I think people do a surface level research of the audience. Say, okay, well I'm going to have an audience of people around this tenure and there's going to be about 30 of them and this is going to be a Q&A session. So it's informal. I want you to go many layers deeper. I want you to think through about context that they have. What is the world in which it is formed in their heads? And you are just stepping into it. It's not your world that they're stepping into, it's their world that you are stepping into.

Number two is their biases. Do they have informed decisions on this topic or do they not have informed decisions? And what is their incentives? And then only then, once you understand all of that deeply, you can ask what do you want them to take away? What do you want the audience to do? Because we get so engrossed in what we want to say, we don't think enough about who the listener is. And often at work, the need is more heightened because if you have an audience that disagrees or feel like you're attacking them, even if you aren't 'because you're embarrassing them about some performance aspects, the last thing you want to do is embarrass anybody. That's going to turn away from what you're trying to say. So pre-work, including preparation of doing this deep research as well as syndication, meaning that you pre share a presentation with people who may feel sensitive, who may react badly, I'll say those are more important, if not just as, but more important than the presentation itself. I think people gear up towards that 45 minutes of fame that they're going to have presenting something, but then the days and weeks and hours that you need to put in to prep the audience is just as important.

AD : I don't think we think about that idea of prepping the audience nearly enough. Yeah, absolutely. And certainly stepping into their shoes.

Have you ever had a really important presentation? Can you share an example of one? I'm sure you've had one or two. That you thought just went really well and why was it so successful?

The Science of Persuasion: Presenting to Unfamiliar And Sophisticated Audiences (29:18)

JH : So I do give a lot of presentations, whether it be board presentations to my team, but I want to highlight one. This one was particularly different, I would say. So some time ago I had to give a presentation where I had zero skin in the game. So I wasn't a player in this decision making. And essentially the background without divulging too much was that there were a group of investors that wanted to enter a particular area of science and they weren't sure. And they wanted to understand whether there's compelling enough structure and hypotheses to pursue this field. Now, I say I have no skin in the game in that I have no direct incentive. They weren't investing into me. I'm not getting any of their dollars and they're just forming their own thing.

But the reason why I was excited to do this is because I believe that more money should be going into science. So the more I can get investors comfortable with the way an investment could be structured, I think that's better outcome for everybody, all of us. So it was to explain some complicated aspects. So scientifically complicated to non-scientists as well as business-wide, somewhat complicated to how do I think about structuring a different investment types into this particular area of science. And I really got couple of touch points before I gave this presentation and I was told I have to stay strictly in 45 minute time limit.

So I really thought about this deeply actually for weeks because you have a very sophisticated audience with zero sophistication in science and that needs to be really moved in a big way by this presentation and help them make this decision. So what I ended up doing is that I had both elements in my slides, which was some complex information that really should be read, and then there was some simple stuff that was more graphical. But what I ended up doing was, I passed around pages of this complex stuff and I told them and said, I want you to listen to me right now because this stuff you can take as post read. What I'm going to do for you though, in the next 45 minutes is to hear your concerns about this area, set up the context in which you can go and understand this complex stuff and technical stuff you put in there. And I just want to have a dialogue with you why this is so important. And I really set it up as like, this is going to be a context setting for us.

And it was great because I really got to hear their concerns and got to shape the narrative as to how they can now contextualize the complex stuff that they're going to take home and read. Because their understanding of that really, those are just facts and figures. And what I needed to do was create a world with them that day, so that when they go read the complex stuff, they'll be like, this is worth it. Doing this complex stuff is worth it, right? And I feel like she really heard out our concerns.

So for me, that presentation took a lot of mindful strategy and it took a lot of also physicality and comfort matter. Also, I think people don't think about the physicality enough. You can hide behind a podium, you can be far from the audience. Those are all different tactics you can think about. How much do you gesticulate, do you start with the story? So I do think that these are important aspects to bring your audience with you on what you want them to do.

NM : Hey everyone, Nolan here. I have to jump in and end today's podcast for part A of the show. Be sure to rate, review and subscribe to the NEGOTIATEx podcast if you haven't already. And also join us next week for part B of this awesome interview.

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