Friday, 12 November 2010

What if you need to present bad news?

For many, there will be instances where we have to present news that is both uncomfortable and unpleasant. In a business sense, this could be a failed bid, staff cuts, redundancies, forced takeover or company closure. These types of presentations follow special rules and guidelines that do not follow conventional presentation structures.
The first rule to remember is that although you have had plenty of time to prepare yourself for the news, your colleagues or audience will not have, and it will be a huge shock for them.
The second rule is be direct in your opening statement, don't lead to a conclusion, tell them exactly what the news is immediately. There will be a lot of rumour mongering about the meeting, and they will all be anxious, so dont keep them hanging on.
The third rule is to give them an insight as to what has caused the failure, explain what actions you had tried to countermeasure the effect and the net result.
And the final rule, give them a timescale and actions over the coming weeks, if you are bringing in advisers tell them, if people are owed money, tell them the situation, and if you are expecting them to work for a period of time, or need them to handover information explain to them how this will be facilitated together with the return of company assets.
Remember. You have delivered news that may have a profound effect on the audiences livelyhood, they will be shocked then angry before they can accept the fate that has been delivered to them. So be sincere, dont try and be clever of make false promises that you cannot keep.