“Nosferatu’s Masterclass in Presenting to Stakeholders,” by Zara Karschay

Apr 20th, 2022 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Ah, Fledgling, enter, do join us, you’re a small one. I see you have moved at a brisk pace—beneath your dark hood you have a strange colour to your cheeks where only pallor is meant to be.

Transmogrify, take a ceiling beam if you wish, my words will retain their meaning whichever way you choose to hang. All I beseech you is, please, save your questions until the end. Dawn is but a few hours hence. And we must use what these new men call the “small hours” to master my last class in stakeholder management.

Why, yes, you did miss the earlier lessons! This is immaterial. Tonight, we cover the most essential of all: What a vampire must do to present to stakeholders.

Perhaps my tastes gravitate towards the arcane, but I still believe that nothing beats a good story. Remind yourself why those present wanted to have a stake in you in the first place. It will be the same as your own goals: To drink the blood of an innocent. Keep this language simple. We gathered here might all prefer the lyrical strains of Old Romanian, but we must tailor our language. Also avoid using your lordly titles. Yes, most of us here is old nobility, and I may have been called “Master” by many an awestruck mortal soul. But now is not the time for being above oneself. Set the Count Orloks and Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecseds to the side, and encourage stakeholders to call you by your first name, which in my case would be Mike. You would be surprised how quickly the offer of a first name disarms them, which gives you a great advantage.

One real mistake that Fledglings make is from where they choose to speak. I see so many setting their coffins in the centre of the room. Though this might look appealing to those who have visited Shakespeare’s Globe—even I remember fondly a vein-burstingly good time there in the summer of 1669—and after all we vampires are a dandyish breed, upon bursting from your box you’ll render yourself unable to direct your plans to all stakeholders at once, leaving yourself open to particularly, let’s say “thorny feedback”. Ask your underlings to push your coffin to the edge of the wall, preferably a spot under a window, which allows you to address everyone—and for easy escape should your presentation go awry.

Up you get, Fledgling at the end of the beam! You have the whole day to sleep.

Try your best to make your stakeholders aware of your boundaries. If you are not to be reached between the hours of first light and sunset, say so. And yet this is a fast-paced world, and you might find yourself needing to present to stakeholders at untoward moments. The most dangerous of these are on the road, as we vampires have such a hard time of travelling. If they insist on meeting you out in the open, perhaps on the bow of an old ship destined for England or a horse-driven carriage in the foggy moors, watch out for the sun getting in your eyes while you’re presenting. Wear your cape to shield yourself—you may also use this as a presentation screen. Props generally make effective additions to your presentation. Don’t tell them that you want to sup on their blood. Show them the goblet in which you plan to drink it.

While thus surrounded, remember, Fledglings, though it is tempting to go after the high stakes first, that you also do not forget to take care of the low stakes. High stakes are certainly more dangerous if you miss, but stakes that come from below can be difficult to parry.

And, when you’re ready to execute, be swift about it. Fledglings, our plans are always time-sensitive. The closer you leave it to sunrise, the more likely your stakeholders will feel they have the edge on you. This is a great time to strike. Be specific at the end, and use plain language: “I’m here to suck your blood!” is a much more powerful and clearer way to express your goals than “From this point onwards in time, stakeholder blood will be set to commence issue.”

Now, the best vampires improve with every presentation. I haven’t got to where I am today by just sitting around with my talons up my sphincter. But it can be difficult to get feedback when your stakeholders are gurgling their own blood. My advice: Think beyond the first stakeholder. Some lesser stakeholders may enter your presentation post facto, and their despairing cries may offer a great deal of useful information to you as well as updating future stakeholders with your execution plans at no cost to you.

I hope this was helpful, Fledgling? Oh, young thing, how your tongue lolls! If I didn’t know better, if I didn’t now see the floppy ears and wet nose, I’d say you’ve gone quite giddy with the blood of a pious vicar! I’m sorry but after all this, it seems you’re in the wrong room. This is Nosferatu’s Masterclass in Presenting to Stakeholders. You might try down the hall: Cujo’s Masterclass in Presenting to Steak-Holders.

Do give him my regards.


Zara Karschay is a writer and artist based in Hamburg.

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