My imaginary but oh-so-real friend Bernice asks, How do I prepare to give my opinion? I show up with my thoughts, but people don’t listen.
Let’s help Bernice by revisiting the scene of the crime.
“The Power of YOU!’ is a terrible name for a show!” Bernice was livid. She waddled furiously into the room, tossing the proposal onto the table, rosebud lips pursed in annoyance. “I am an enlightened being. Enlightened beings understand that we are all One. There is no ‘me,’ and there is no ‘you.’ The Power of YOU discriminates against we who have found enlightenment!” She assumes her Personal Power Posture, glaring at the rest of the team, spearing the proposal beneath her left index finger, right hand planted firmly on her, er, (with Bernice it’s kind of hard to tell. I think it’s her hip).
We were late. There was no time for drama. “Bernice,” I said, “that’s EWE – E-W-E. This show is about a talking sheep with superpowers who fights crime while balancing career and family.” If Bernice had read the manuscript instead of complaining about it, she would have known that. “Harumph!” she declared, sat down, and busied herself in her paperwork. Melvin whispered, a bit too loudly, “I’ll bet you feel sheepish!” The look she gave him could have melted steel.
When you have the chance to give your opinion, or input, on an important decision at work, you want people walking away thinking that you’re the most brilliant person in existence, whose opinion not only matters, but is worthy of worship. You don’t want them questioning the existence of your body parts.
When there’s a decision to be made, your key to success is reading the background material.
How to be Prepared to Give Your Opinion
When there’s a decision to be made, your key to success is reading the background material. Sounds like common sense, right? You’d be amazed how many people don’t do it. Our usual reason is there’s way too much to read and not nearly enough time. But you don’t have to read it in detail. Strategic skimming can make meeting prep much less work.
Your goal is to be able to argue for the choices you support, against the choices that your nemesis from Department X supports, and be able to base your position on logic, facts, and rational analysis.
Skim the Background Material
You will prepare by skimming. You won’t read in detail; you’ll use your brain’s natural ability to hone in on information you choose. By the time you’re done, you will have skimmed the material several times, and absorbed a fair amount of it. You’ll do a deep dive, but only for the stuff that’s important for the meeting.