Give Them A Wallop: What To Do When You’re Cut Short In Your Prime

All the preparation in the world can all count for nothing if events conspire against you in a meeting with time constraints meaning you’re cut short in your prime. In such circumstances you need to structure a cohesive, rationale argument rapidly.  The ‘Wallop’ technique is a structure you can apply at short notice in such situations.

Imagine this scenario: you get in front of senior management, having prepared your 30 minute presentation, rehearsed your body language, eye contact and techniques to engage the audience. You’re ready to go: all psyched up and beating with adrenaline.

But what happens if you’re in the Board Room and the meeting is running late, like they always do? You’re 5 minutes from the end of the meeting, as an afterthought, they ask you to spit out your message there and then. Under such pressure, you’re likely to get flustered and confused so you opt for one of three options:

  • tell them exactly what you want – the basic headlines, but without any of the detailed rationale or context you’ve worked on. And the result is you’re likely to get refused.
  • whizz through your slides, talking twice as fast – you’ll sound like Mickey Mouse on amphetamines and your audience will take in nothing.
  • chuck your handouts across the table – if you’re lucky they’ll go through them before forgetting about the contents because you can’t explain anything.

How to wallop the Board when you have only minimum time

Instead, try this technique, ‘The Wallop, Down, Up, Please’ approach. Before I explain, I would love to take the credit for this but must, reluctantly, give this to Andy Bounds author of the ‘Snowball Effect, Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable’. My pride is dented but I hope to get Karma points for not saying it’s my own original invention…..

Here we go:

  1. Wallop – Give the impact of the current situation, usually negative. This hits the ‘pain’ button, telling the audience the impact of not doing something, and ideally this should be a scenario that directly impacts people in the room, in order to extract maximum ‘pain’.
  2. Down – Make the situation worse (“And, as a result, this will also happen…”). Turn the screw to add potential impacts of not following your proposals.
  3. Up – Give the alternative that improves the situation with as much context as you can squeeze in. (However, if we were to…, this would be the outcome..”)
  4. Please – Now make your request/proposal in plain and simple terms. (For these reasons, I recommend that we…..)

An example:

  1. Wallop – We’re spending £230,000 per month on X
  2. Down – Even worse, the number will increase over the next couple of months. As a result, projected needless waste will cost £2.8 million this year. This will increase to over £5.6 million in the next couple of years.
  3. Up – However, we can reduce these costs by over 75% – that’s a potential saving of over £4 million – by implementing x (Spend 2-3 minutes explaining your proposal, using ‘What, Where, When, How: bullets only. This isn’t a full report).
  4. Please – Given that successful implementation could deliver £4 million of savings, I ask you to Action X?

This may sound like just the brief highlights of your proposal, but it is much more than that. It’s a far more structured approach.  It cuts to the chase by giving real-world examples of what is at stake, outlining how your proposal can make a tangible difference. In the circumstances, this is by far the best way to make the most of those few minutes, giving you the best chance of having your proposal accepted.

(Thanks, Andy, for your example. You may nick my model below for your next book).

A similar persuasive technique model is the PROEP (Proposal, Reasons, Objections, Evidence, Proposal) model, so you’ve got two tools you can use when they say “Sorry, but could you just give us a quick overview. We’ve run out of time.”

You can find the PROEP structure here.

Note that both structures are ideal for emails as well as face-to-face communication.

Your Action:

  1. Determine your proposal
  2. Look at both the WALLOP and PROEP
  3. Decide which is better for your situation.  (The PROEP, you’ll see, is better when you know they have strong objections and you’ve a plan to overcome them.)
  4. Make your bullet points beforehand to mentally navigate through the structure in the moment.

What do you do when you need to get your point across quickly? If you need help with communications skills, presentation skills or public speaking training, then get in touch with me today and book on one of my courses.


  • yona flink says:

    You should always start with the pain and even better if those present are suffering from the pain. If they are suffering, then the cure is not something theoretical, but pragmatic and valuable.

    • Alison Kemp says:

      Totally agree, Yona. The less time you have, the more the need to go for the pain. Avoiding that is very likely to give the motivation to act.

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