merkel 2With the  German election approaching newspapers are full of articles trying to get to the secret of the success of the world’s most powerful woman and what makes her tick.

We were given an interesting insight into what this could be in the Observer:

“It has been she – the first to admit she dislikes conflict – who has stood up and literally rearranged the chairs at a conference in a last-ditch and arguably maternal intervention to forge better communication.”

This suggests that among her many strengths is Angela Merkel’s understanding that effective and persuasive communication is not just about the message. She has an emotional intelligence at work that realises creating an environment where participants feel at ease with one another from the outset of the meeting, before any discord, can be critical to achieving a productive outcome.

table 1 IIn the hectic build-up to a pitch it is easy to overlook the experience the venue can foster, as opposed to the efficiency of the equipment. For home fixtures, you can dictate the style and mood of meeting and choreograph accordingly. Imagination helps.

For away fixtures do your homework and don’t fall into the trap, for example, of the forbidding adversarial boardroom when you were anticipating an informal pitch with a handful of people. If you can’t avoid the allocated (hostile) setting aim to take some control over the space. Try to break out of the rigid format, look at starting informally standing over introductory coffee. Perhaps use one end of the table and avoid if possible the confrontational face-off.

chairs 2

If all else fails take a leaf out the Merkel approach to forging good communication.


Rearrange the chairs.