Have you ever gone to a meeting thinking things were in the bag, pretty much settled, only a few trivial details left to work out and walked out wondering what the heck happened? It wasn’t so much that people were on different pages as it was you got blindsided by something you didn’t see coming on the horizon, something you didn’t even know was on the table.
Ah…you didn’t count your enemies before they hatched.
More Undocumented Uses of NextStage Sentiment Analysis – NSSA
I’ve been posting undocumented ways to use NextStage’s Sentiment Analysis Tool (NSSA) on different blogs. For example, I wrote in Sentiment Analysis 101 that an undocumented use of NextStage’s Sentiment Analysis Tool was to compare the writings of several people in a group to determine how well they’d get along, be able to work together, share goals, so on and so forth. NextStage has another tool coming out more designed for that purpose and until then, you can use NSSA that way.
This time out I’m going to suggest using NextStage’s Sentiment Analysis Tool to determine the outcome of a meeting before it even begins. Want to know if you should even go or if there’s more work that needs to be done before a positive outcome results?
Not to worry, we got you covered.
- Find out who’s sitting at the table – This is the easy step. You can ask for an attendance list, check the email invitation stream or simply ask verbally, “Who’s going to be involved in this decision?”
- Do a little internet research – Very often people at meetings tell me they googled me beforehand to learn a little about me. Good for them and good for me and what I suggest is a little different.
I google for things written by the people who’ll be attending the meeting on the subject of the meeting. It can be anything they’ve written from an email to an opinion piece to a whitepaper, a blog post, a Twitter stream, an online article, it doesn’t matter. The ideal is to find 3-5 pieces they’ve written as close to the time of the meeting as possible so that you’ll have an idea of what’s going on in their heads regarding the subject you’re going to discuss.
And yes, I know that so far we’re talking basic due diligence, as in “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. Now comes the NextStageish part.
- Use NextStage’s Sentiment Analysis Tool to analyze their writing – Here’s an example of an NSSA Advanced report. Remember, we want to get a “read” of a decision maker before we spend time and energy convincing them of a decision.
- Author Attitude – Author Attitude is the first chart on the report. The material analyzed was extremely neutral. So neutral, in fact, that the author was either very skilled or genuinely neutral towards their subject matter.
- Confidence – The Confidence Gauge is the second chart on the report. The author was not very confident in their subject matter. At all. People who are that unconfident about a topic they’re addressing can not be naturally neutral towards it, so we learn that the author was being intentionally neutral. People are intentionally neutral when they don’t want their true feelings (the word du jour for “true feelings” is, of course, “sentiment”) known.
- Author Influencer Type – Further down on the report is Author Influencer Type. Notice that the author’s GateKeeper value — an indication that the author only wants certain people to have access to this information — is about half the Influencer value. Combine this with the previous chart’s values — specifically Message Intent: Love — and we can guess that the author is writing for a select group in which the author is both known and whom the author knows, ie, probably an internal doc modified for public distribution.
- Ten Must Marketing Messages: We’re A Leader – this metric’s value confirms the low Confidence value. A strong belief in the author or their company being a leader would have increased that We’re A Leader value greatly.
- Trust and Affinity – these two charts are in the bottom third of the report. Although these values in and of themselves are fairly standard for English speaking, western educated authors, they need to be compared to the Author Influencer Type, Message Intent: Love and Confidence values. If the author was writing for a select, known audience then chances are these values would be higher. Their values when considered with the Author Influencer Type values again confirms the low Confidence value.
- Sphere of Influence – the last chart on the report is Sphere of Influence. Again, we see that the author was writing — intentionally or otherwise — for a very small (and probably internal) audience.
Using Information Wisely
The material evaluated is publicly available so you can read it. You’ve asked for an attendee list so you have an idea of who the author is.
The Author Attitude, Confidence, Author Influencer Type and Sphere of Influence values tell you what you want to know, the background story that you need to know before you go to the meeting.
That story is a simple one. The author, the decision maker you need to convince, is essentially stating “I’m going to act neutral but really I’ve already made up my mind. I don’t have confidence that what’s being offered will solve our problems and I’ve already taken steps to convince others in the organization of that, covertly if not overtly.”
Because I’m me, I like to have more than one opinion on things before I act upon them. That other opinion came from NextStage’s BlueSky Meter (originally it had another name that also had the initials “BS”). NextStage’s BlueSky Meter determines one thing and one thing only; how much…imagination (a safe word)…went into something.
NextStage’s BlueSky Meter determined that this same material was just over 50% Blue Sky.
No wonder the author wasn’t very confident.
Using Information Well
You want to go to meetings prepared and specifically prepared to win. Before going to any meeting get on the phone and learn more about the author’s decision making position in the company, what the politics are around the author, maybe even talk to the author his or herself to determine what can be done to persuade them, if anything. How would you persuade them? That’s in the report in the Author-Audience RichPersonae section. There are four bullets there that provide insight into how the author thinks, makes decisions and motivates them (you can get greater depth on the author’s psychology by using NextStage’s PersonaScope Tool. It provides anywhere from 16-30 notes on author psychology).
In short, you need to decide if you’ll be wasting your time and resources preparing for an outcome that will never occur.
Like I wrote in the title, I like to know my enemies before they hatch and I’ll use any tools available to determine both the lay of the land what’s been laid on it. That way I can devote my resources to incubating things I know will win.
Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.
- 17 Sept 2010 – Know How Someone Is Thinking in 10 Seconds or Less in Bedford, NH
- 21 Sept 2010 – Social Media Messaging with Meaning in Concord, NH
Sign up for The NextStage Irregular, our very irregular, definitely frequency-wise and probably topic-wise newsletter.
You can follow me and my research on Twitter. I don’t twit often but when I do, it’s with gusto!
Have you read my latest book, Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History? It’s a whoppin’ good read.