How stepping into a batting cage can help you hit home runs in the boardroom

One of the most rewarding and crucial components of my coaching and training role is when clients experience those special ‘a-ha’ discovery moments … When a perfectly practical solution strikes them so clearly, they immediately want to apply it into their daily business process.

It’s true to say that in most of our coaching and training sessions we would expect you to experience one or two of those special ‘key’ motivational moments … However, what we want to share with you for now is a unique training session, that surprised even me with how many ‘a-has’ or key ‘action’ tools were revealed.

Recently one of my clients expressed a huge desire to help him become more assertive and persuasive when communicating strategies, plans and budgets, particularly when presenting to senior level management.  The client’s deep thinking, intelligent and detailed responses were becoming severely challenged when faced with the need to concisely deliver bottom-line information.

It was important to my client that he continued to deliver the tasks thoroughly, whilst at the same time learn to improve on his ability to adapt to the variety of situations that were regularly thrown at him, yet still take on board feedback and business responses from others.

Great learns to approaching the boardroom come from approaching new things outside.

While I knew I could simply ‘tell’ my client what behaviours to change in order to better handle these situations, we know the best way for people to embrace behaviour changes is to get them to experience them firsthand.  Therefore, I wanted to recreate a fast paced, high pressure situation that one needed to respond quickly in order to achieve success.  So, we both took a field trip to a local baseball ‘batting’ cage: A machine that repeatedly and quickly throws baseball pitches from about 54 feet away at speeds ranging from 40 to 90 miles per hour!

We started with the slower pitches, to understand the ‘basic techniques’ of our swing, gradually increasing the pitch speeds as we started to ‘understand the fundamentals’ of the necessary reactions, eventually enabling us to hit that elusive 90 mile an hour fastball thrown by major league pitchers!

At this particular facility, we were hosted by a professional batting coach to help you improve our swing – ultimately getting more ‘hits’ at bat.   What occurred next was a pleasant and extremely powerful lesson …

Even before stepping into that batting box, we began to see the parallels between my client’s performance in the office and their performance in the batters box.  These metaphors kept coming at us almost as fast as the balls were!  So, in the context of batting, I started to write them down, and it’s very easy to see how they provide obvious parallel limitations to the assertive and persuasive communications my client was striving to deliver.  Keep in mind, these were the batting coaches comments, not mine!

  1. Relax – This was the first thing he noticed.  In order to be as powerful and accurate as possible, you need to relax first, because if you’re tense, your swing (your business communications delivery) will be limited.
  2. Think outside the batters box. Act inside the batters box. –   This critique was a pretty clear metaphor for preparation.  Preparation beforehand allows you to deliver succinctly and with confidence during the meeting/presentation.
  3. Swing plane should match the pitch plane – For those non-baseball players, this simply means to watch the angle that the pitcher is delivering the pitch.  Your swing should line up to match the same angle as the ball being thrown.  In business, this is a clear metaphor to listen to the ‘style’ in which the questions or statements are being delivered and respond in a similar style to improve persuasiveness, relevance and clarity.
  4. Don’t back away from the ball –  Instead of retracting from the ball, stay firm in the box and move your body into the ball – again a metaphor for standing your ground in a meeting, embracing the questions or comments and delivering your prepared responses with confidence and control.  That’s where the power comes from.
  5. Anticipate the pitch – You know it’s coming, so ‘prepare’ accordingly. A perfect metaphor for anticipating and rehearsing, responding to likely questions or comments that might come up during a meeting, pitch or presentation.
  6. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. –  Another great metaphor.  It’s okay to feel uncomfortable right now, but know that discomfort will lead to a quicker path to this particular behaviour and mindset change of being more responsive, concise and confident in your delivery.
  7. First 10 feet are the most important part of the pitch - This coaching tip reinforces the need to stay focused on the delivery of the message/question and responding accordingly.  In other words, if you hesitate or aren’t focused, you’ll miss the ball, or in business, the opportunity to respond with credibility and conviction.
  8. Watch the release of the pitch – Similar to #7, but the distinction here is to only watch the release of the ball from the pitchers hand and not get distracted from anything else.  Again, reinforcing the notion to only focus on the business question and your empowering beliefs and none of the other distracting thoughts or limiting beliefs.
  9. Once I relaxed the ball didn’t seen to come as fast – This was actually one of the first learned insights for the client after immediately applying some of the above adjustments.  It convincingly demonstrated that when you eliminate all unnecessary distractions and/or limiting beliefs it becomes much easier to focus on the incoming ball, or business message/question.  Also, as per #1 above, when you’re relaxed, your delivery will appear that way, in turn creating greater comfort with the audience and enhancing your credibility in their eyes – which is ultimately the client’s goal.
  10. Getting into position -  Again reinforces the preparation required, but also visualizing the right ‘stance’ or mindset for you to be in when responding – firm, still and ready.
  11. You can be calm and assertive –  Again another client observation that came from relaxing and hitting the ball more powerfully through stillness.
  12. Step into it –  In order to get more power, speed and distance into a hit, you need to move your body toward the incoming ball – simple physics.  In the boardroom, being pro-active and embracing the opportunities to share your knowledge and expertise will enhance your credibility.

Again, the coaching tips above were directly from a batting coach who was simply trying to help my client improve his swing and had no idea that we were using this as a business exercise.

As you can see, not only was this a hugely successful outing and an innovative way to present simple to apply concepts, we were both ecstatic at the glaring similarities between improved performance at the plate and in the boardroom … And it worked!

My client was quick to implement these principles and mindset immediately back at the office and quickly received favourable feedback from senior management and more importantly, improved his credibility and ease at which ideas and recommendation were embraced.

So I encourage each of you to step into your own ‘batter’s box’ and see what coaching insights you might gain.  Transfer those lessons learnt back into the boardroom to see how many more ‘home runs’ you’re hitting.

Let me know how it goes or tell me when you’d like to experience a new way to improve your business performance.

Batter up!!!

Share Button
About goto11dotca:

Find all posts by goto11dotca