My heart skipped a bit, the team had come too far to lose so cheaply. Holding dear to the rule to never outshine the master I stood on the stage smiling desperately behind my boss. I was going to be that supportive team member through and through. I helped my boss move the slides I prepared whenever I noticed he had exhausted the page but was too frozen to hit the next button.
We struggled through the presentation but did it anyway. Our 40 minutes ran by so slowly, it felt like hours. I looked at the crowd, we had lost them. Some were busy on their phones, while others were chatting away with friends. I was heartbroken not too sure we will get another chance to make things right.
The next speaker stepped up to the stage. They were from Premium PFA and our direct competitors – product and company. The man owned the stage. His theatrics were on point, and he preyed on us like a vulture would on dead meat. He maximized the stage, holding the microphone confidently, moving from one end of the stage to the other. He engaged the audience on a personal level, and he eventually had them nodding to his points. Then he began the long-aged war between Life-Annuity and Programmed Withdrawal, throwing major shades at our product even though it has been proven to be better.
I sat on my sit plotting my revenge and a sweet comeback to salvage the situation. Then I heard the moderator say we will be taking questions. I looked at my boss and immediately begged him to allow me to handle the session. He saw my eyes and knew I was not joking. He asked me if I could answer them, I smiled and replied ‘’Oga try me and see!’’
My plan was simple, I was going to use the elevator pitch strategy. Fortunately, we just did our presentations the previous Saturday. I understood I will have less than 60 seconds to make the final case for the team, product, and company. I did what I had done before my class presentation, I took a deep breath, asked myself what was the worst that could happen (like Eugene taught us), held my shoulders high (taking hints from our social skills class) and then took the microphone.
I addressed the questions asked and then set out for the kill. ‘’concerning the issues raised by my amiable colleague from Premium Pension, all I will say is, let us allow the documents to speak. Every term of agreement, terms, and conditions inclusive are included in the agreements given by both companies and if payment for life is promised, let the documents speak. They have done an amazing job managing your pensions up until retirement, but it is now time to move over to guaranteed pension’’. Before I finished my words, the audience rolled out loud claps of concurrence. Some even gave a standing ovation; I had struck gold.
I walked back to my seat, leaving the stage when the clap was loudest. At the end of the presentation, some people walked over to my team and said they were almost confused when the man from Premium was speaking but my statement during the question-and-answer section rebuilt their confidence.
It immediately came to my memory that you could have an amazing product from an amazing company but lose cheaply to competition without management communication skills. As we were told in the Harvard Course, managers must understand that communication skills are just as important as the technical know-how of the job.