From Penalty Shootouts to Project Negotiations

Effective meeting tactics inspired by high-stakes events in football

Fabio Turel
2 min readMay 13


You have meticulously crafted a good presentation, rehearsed your pitch, and prepared strong arguments to counter any objections. But then, as the meeting is about to start, all the confidence suddenly vanishes, and you’re left with this overwhelming feeling of pressure and uncertainty.

Sounds familiar? Meetings involving negotiations rank high on my personal list of the most nerve-wracking interactions. These situations stand out by bringing two opposing teams face-to-face, each driven by their own conflicting goals and interests.

Unlike collaborative project tasks where teams work together towards a common objective, negotiation meetings highlight inherent tensions and differences as participants work towards finding common ground. Moreover, the outcomes of these meetings often hinge on a fast-paced exchange of thoughts, questions, and answers.

Whether you’re on your own, or leading one of the two sides, conducting a successful negotiation is definitely a matter of performing under pressure, and a delicate balance of confidence and strategy. Just as penalty shootouts in sports demand players to maintain composure and make split-second decisions, negotiating in high-stakes meetings calls for a similar mental fortitude.

U.S. Department of State from United States, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Professor Geir Jordet, a specialist in psychology and football at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, has analyzed hundreds of penalty shootouts and thousands of kicks in total, giving him a unique perspective on the psychology of the event.

This article about his research includes several insights, and an entertaining analysis of the attitude kept by the Argentina goalkeeper in the 2022 World Cup final, an attitude that ostensibly played a major role in their victory over France.

“Very calculated, creative, well executed,” Jordet concludes, “but of course also highly, highly cynical.”

While the attitude displayed by Mr. Martínez might be deemed unacceptable in a business context, the lessons we can learn extend beyond the conventional “be prepared for your meetings” mantra. These valuable inspirations can remain socially acceptable, regardless of their questionable source.

Through the upcoming articles, I will delve deeper into this fascinating case study, offering some additional insights. Stay tuned, and don’t let your diligent preparation for meetings succumb to pressure!



Fabio Turel

A Project Manager must be a good storyteller. Stories about my profession, my interests and my passions converge in this place.