From the sales floor to the boardroom, your ability to deliver a message with clarity will have a dramatic impact on your success. When it comes to your oral communications, planning, and preparation allows you to deliver your message more effectively, which greatly increases the likelihood that others will respond as desired and expected.
As you consider your approach to any conversation or presentation, consider the four keys to developing that essential clarity:
- Substance of message
- Simplicity of message for better understanding
- Structure of the message
- Speed of delivery of the message
When you are communicating with others you need to have a message to share as well as a specific desired outcome of the conversation. When you focus on the substance, you start taking an intentional look at your message to identify the key essential elements. By devoting time to developing your message, you will greatly increase your probability of success and understanding.
- 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 that action?
- What story could I share to illustrate the benefits?
- How will I know that they received and understood the message that sent?
These questions will help you identify the most important substance of your presentation and will help you to begin developing a strategic outline.
Having identified your core substance, ask yourself: How can I deliver this in the most simplistic manner possible?
Keep in mind that when you are presenting to others, they are:
- Listening to you
- Processing the information
- Thinking about the information and what it means to them
- Watching you
- Could be distracted by their surroundings, by noise (construction, traffic, side talking, business machines) or by something that is bothering them (do not feel well, have a personal problem, etc.)
- Feeling their cell phone vibrating
- Thinking about other things they need to do
Given the level of thought and distraction occurring within the mind of your listener, the more straightforward your message, the higher the probability it will stick. In addition, getting validating feedback is essential to finding out if in fact they did hear your intended message, process it as you would want and came to the conclusion that you are expecting.
As you develop your message, consider:
- Using simple terminology, avoiding buzzwords and jargon or other words that they might not understand
- Using shorter, more concise sentences
- Using a short story to illustrate a point
- Encourage questions for clearer understanding
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 upon as you expect.
Once you are clear on your key message and wording, developing the structure of your discussion or presentation will help you to avoid disappointment, resentment or even confusion for the person with whom you are speaking.
Some of the key areas that require attention are:
- Rapport and trust-building
- Opening sentence
- Information gathering
- Information sharing
- Story structure and placement
- Closing/call to action
As you become more effecting in the structure of your presentations, you will develop a library of meaningful openings, appropriate illustrative stories, and effective calls to action that you will be comfortable using in a variety of situations.
You have prepared your information, now it is time to talk to a customer, colleague or even present to a group. During any form of presentation, it is important to use vocal variety (tone, volume, and speed) in order to avoid having your standard speaking tone become monotonous.
Vocal variety throughout your conversation provides two benefits:
- Maintaining engagement and interest in your material for the listener
- Highlighting critical elements in a simple but succinct manner
Here are some tips for intentionally 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 to convey that excitement.
- Highlight the important points, and practice slowing down to convey their importance.
- Practice using pauses to allow your listener to connect to your points, and consider their impact.
Through your increased focus on Substance, Simplicity, Structure, and Speed, your presentations to your customers or audience will become more consistent, powerful, impactful, and most importantly, more effective.