From the showroom to the boardroom, your ability to deliver a message with clarity will have a dramatic impact on your success. What is the cost of un-clear communication within your organization?
When it comes to your spoken communications, planning and preparation allows you to deliver your message more effectively, increasing the likelihood others will respond as desired. As you consider your approach to any conversation or presentation, consider the four keys to developing clarity:
- What is the single most important message I want them to hear?
- What are the most important details I need to share?
- What do I want them to remember?
- What action do I want them to take?
- What can I say or ask that will help them take action?
- What story could I share to illustrate benefits?
- As part of your message development process, continually ask “Who cares?”
When you consider what you are presenting from the perspective of your audience, you can honestly assess whether or not they care about certain statements or points. By removing elements that your listener doesn’t care about, you will begin to create truly powerful and impactful messages using fewer words than you imagined possible.
Having identified your core substance, ask yourself: “How can I deliver this in the most simplistic manner possible?” The more straightforward your message, the higher the probability your message will stick with them.
As you develop your message, consider:
- Using simple terminology, avoiding buzz words and jargon
- Using shorter, more concise sentences
- Using a short story to illustrate a point
Keep in mind that the intent of simplicity is not to talk down to people but to present a message that is easy to understand, interpret, and act on. Remind yourself that “less words = more message”.
Structure: Once you are clear on your key message and wording, developing the structure of your discussion or presentation will help you avoid missteps. Some of the key areas that require attention are:
- Rapport building
- Information gathering
- Information sharing
- Story structure and placement
- Closing/call to action
As you become more strategic about the structure of your presentations, you will develop a library of common openings, stories, and calls to action that you will be comfortable using in a variety of situations.
Speed: You have prepared and practiced your presentation and now it’s time to talk to a customer or present to a group. During any form of presentation it is important to use vocal variety (tone, volume, and speed) to help keep your audience engaged and to create emphasis on critical points.
There are a few steps that will help you be more intentional about using speed to create greater impact:
- Record yourself speaking normally to determine your baseline speed, tone, and volume
- Highlight points that you are excited about and practice saying those at a faster rate and slightly higher tone of voice to convey excitement
- Highlight important points, and practice slowing down and lowering your tone to convey importance
- Practice using pauses to allow your listener to connect to your points, and think about their impact.
Initially, the changes to your speaking patterns will feel awkward and uncomfortable. Continue practicing and recording your presentation.
Effective communication is an intentional and practiced process. Through your increased focus on Substance, Simplicity, Structure, and Speed, your presentations to your customers or audience will become more consistent, powerful, and most importantly, more effective.