Boris is the smart ol’ CEO of TNW who writes a weekly column on all the things about being an entrepreneur in tech — from managing stress to embracing awkwardness. You will get his musings straight to your inbox by signing up for his newsletter!

I not too long ago needed to ship some dangerous information to a bunch of individuals. Delivering dangerous information is a part of the job, and I don’t need to complain about it. I don’t have the benefit of it (quite the opposite), however I additionally need to do it proper. Sort of like a physician who may have to do one thing that’ll  harm the affected person with a purpose to make them higher. 

I believe you may deal with a disaster, or dangerous information, in an excellent or dangerous approach, and I’m blissful if I could make one of the best of a foul scenario. There’s a bizarre contradiction in there, however such is life.

I’ve discovered a couple of classes via the years in delivering dangerous information, and I assumed I’d share these with you.

Announce, clarify, repeat

After we do a presentation at TNW, we attempt to begin with the precise announcement. Get it out as quickly as attainable, and don’t construct as much as it. Then clarify what and why, after which repeat the announcement and are available to a conclusion. 

I’ve usually felt the necessity to first clarify the why and the way after which come to a conclusion with the announcement. That’s a mistake I’ve made too many occasions. Individuals really feel you’re working in direction of the precise announcement and wish you to only spit it out — so don’t preserve them ready. Begin along with your announcement, then clarify, then repeat the conclusion.

Be sincere, and don’t sugarcoat

I’m a persuasive motherfucker and have a tendency to bullshit my approach out of a variety of issues. My pure inclination is to sugarcoat all the things. However regardless that I believe I’m good at that, I’m not. Individuals learn via bullshit, and recognize honesty much more than a shit-sandwich (dangerous information packed in between excellent news). Be sincere, and begin with the reality. 

Be sure to supply ample proof, information, and background on request alongside along with your dangerous information. The extra information you must again up your announcement, the higher. However watch out to not overload your viewers.

If the information is important, folks will want a while to digest and perceive what you’re saying. In case you throw an excessive amount of information at them, you’ll lose your viewers. However… it’s nice to have the info prepared in order that if there’s a request for extra information, you may present it.

Sooner is best than later

It’s important to consider the way you’re going to ship the information, who to inform first, to make an motion plan, and so forth. Nevertheless it’s additionally crucial to provide folks the information as quickly as attainable. 

I’d somewhat be quick, and stutter and provides an unpolished story,  and present that I wasted no time in sharing my information, somewhat than losing time on crafting a brilliant polished story.

Be private, with out hiding behind it

If I’m genuinely emotional, I don’t thoughts displaying that. I believe some folks discover I get flustered and my voice breaks a bit after I’m delivering dangerous information. I’m human, I’ve emotions, and I’m delicate. I’m not ashamed to indicate that. However I might by no means make the error of claiming to somebody who’s about to lose their job “yeah, I really feel terrible too.” 

Feelings will not be a forex you should use as a instrument, and if folks see you try this, it’ll come over as an insult. Be sincere, in addition to honest.

Time to digest

I’ve mentioned it earlier than, however it’s value it to emphasise: By the point you ship dangerous information, you’ve already had time to grasp it, contemplate the implications, after which take into consideration the wording. You might need had time to sleep on it. Your viewers can have loads much less time to course of it. 

They’re listening, processing, digesting, and calculating what this implies whereas listening to you ship the information for the primary time. You had a couple of hours or days as a head begin. So keep in mind to provide your viewers a while. Make the additional effort of explaining issues twice, or thrice. Give folks the choice to succeed in out to you immediately to debate issues.


Life is stuffed with surprises, and never all of them are optimistic. I believe there’s honor in having the ability to ship dangerous information completely and constructively. Coping with the excellent news is simple; delivering dangerous information takes abilities. Hone these abilities, after which hope you’ll want them as little as attainable. 

Can’t get sufficient of Boris? Take a look at his older tales right here, and join TNW’s newsletters here.

Printed March 12, 2020 — 14:34 UTC

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