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Can you defend your plan without being defensive?

When meeting with investors or even your board, during the period devoted to feedback after your presentation, you will hear comments and recommendations that don’t resonate with you. Some will be from a misunderstanding of your explanation. Some listeners will challenge your assumptions.  Some will seem to ask just plain show-off questions, in which the questioner wants you and others in the room to know that s/he knows more than you do.

Are you the plan’s salesperson?

You are in a vulnerable position in that room, the salesperson looking for money or approval to proceed with your plan before individuals who have nothing to lose but risky profits far in the future.  You cannot appear to be standoffish, or above responding to some of these inappropriate questions.

The right way to defend

Defend your position when appropriate. But listen carefully.   Although you may be completely right, the questioner’s comment may indicate that you are not getting your points across.  That’s just as valuable for feedback as hearing a good, new idea.

Learning from the experience

[Email readers, continue here…]    If you are looking for investors or need to present to ever-higher levels for approval, sometimes, you will have an opportunity to present to several levels of the organization. Plan to incorporate the appropriate responses to earlier questions in the presentation to avoid those being repeated. Show that you are both humble and adaptable.

And gaining insight from feedback

Investment groups including venture capital fund managers will tell you that the very process of defending your plan will help you better think through the rough spots, better launch the business with fewer holes in reasoning, and better connect with resources that can be used to accelerate your growth to breakeven and beyond. The process is always time-consuming and grueling.  But approached correctly, the time is well spent and the results almost always positive, even if money doesn’t come from the present effort.

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