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Getting your point across to a difficult stakeholder

Gilly Meek, Accredited Think on Your Feet® Trainer

We all have those colleagues and customers that we find difficult. More often than not, it’s one of our important stakeholders. They might be demanding. They might talk over us or appear not to listen. Maybe they frequently catch us off guard, asking a question or for information that we are simply not prepared for.

Whatever the reason, it’s wise to have a strategy for how we communicate with our difficult stakeholders. One of the key challenges is that when we find someone difficult, this can put us on edge – making us lose our train of thought, ramble or not do ourselves justice when we are trying to get our point across.

The techniques we teach in Think on Your Feet® enable you to get your point across clearly, succinctly and with impact, regardless of how challenging the stakeholder is.

Key messages

The most important thing in getting a point across, is that we need to be clear about what we are trying to get across! This may sound obvious, but it is amazing how many people launch into a conversation, with no clue of what their main point(s) are and not knowing the direction they are going to take in delivering the message.


Once you know what your key messages are, you need to have some sort of structure for delivering them. To get your point across and to stop your stakeholder from interrupting or challenging you, you need to sound confident in what you are saying – sounding like you have a direction.

In our Think on Your Feet® workshop, the structures we use are called “Plans”.  The way “Plans” work is:

  • we break our communication down into clear sections, then;
  • we tell our listener what the sections are, by explaining upfront what we are going to be covering in our communication.

This gives the impression that we are on the ball and allows our listener to easily follow the flow of our communication. This leads to us getting our point across very clearly.

For example, if a stakeholder asks you what is happening with a particular project, you could open your response (using the Think on Your Feet® Clock Plan) by saying “I’ll share with you what’s happening in the short-term, medium-term and long-term”. Your listener is then hooked on the signposts you have set up (short-term, medium-term and long-term) and will listen to your message.

Using one of the six Plans that Think on your Feet® teaches you, you’ve ensured you have a structured answer and signposted up front, what it is.

By communicating using Think on Your Feet® plans you will get your point across, even when caught on the spot. Make the conversation with that difficult stakeholder a lot easier!

Online and face-to-face stakeholder management and communication workshops:

More about Gilly Meek Gilly is an accredited Think on Your Feet®, Lateral Thinking™, Six Thinking Hats®, The Skilled Presenter™ and Stakeholder Engagement (including Simulation™) trainer and has delivered these workshops to numerous clients. Gilly also trains in Management Skills, Negotiation Skills, Facilitation Skills‎, Impact & Influence and Time-Management.

Prior to joining Indigo, Gilly managed the learning and development function for Global Radio, the UK’s largest radio organisation; training and coaching employees across a number of brands including Heart, LBC and Galaxy Radio. During her time at Global Radio, she ran several management development and sales development programmes.