By Mark A. Vickers, Speaking Is Selling
As any manager or supervisor knows, when supervising employees or training team members, communicating with clarity – in a way that is easily understood – is the first and most important step in achieving success. Just as much as delivering a message with clarity has a dramatic impact on the success of any interaction; delivering a message that is unclear and misunderstood negatively impacts the success of interactions, and ultimately undermines a department or company’s success.
So how do you ensure that your communications are delivered and received properly? Planning and preparation aid in effective communications and increase the likelihood that others will receive your message and respond as desired. There are four keys to developing communication clarity:
When communicating with others in business, the message you put forth usually has a desired outcome. That is why it is important to focus on the substance of what you would like to get across. Intentionally look at your message to identify the key message and essential elements. Devoting time to the development your message increases the probability of a successful interaction.
To focus on the substance of an interaction ask yourself:
* What is the single most important message I want heard?
* 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?
These questions will identify the substance of your communication from which you can form a strategic outline. Most of us invariably encounter a degree of “Ego Impact.” While you would like to believe that people care about everything you have to say, truth is, they don’t. So to keep yourself on target during the message development process, continually ask yourself, “Who cares?” and, “Why should they care?”
When you consider what you are presenting from the perspective of your audience, you can clearly assess whether or not certain statements, points or instructions relate to the substance of your communication. By removing irrelevant elements you will create a powerful and impactful message.
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
* Distracted by their surroundings
* 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 listeners, the more straightforward your message, the higher the probability your message will be received.
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.
During the process of simplifying your message, don’t be surprised if “Ego” kicks in again. Many people tend to think that fancy, complicated words and long sentences with multiple commas and semi-colons make them sound more impressive. However, your goal is to have your communication easily understood. So remind yourself that less words = more message.
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 communications, you will develop a library of common openings, stories, and calls to action that you will be comfortable using in a variety of situations. In the early stages of becoming more intentional about the structure of your communications, you may feel the structure is redundant, but remember structure is a key to presenting information in the easiest, clearest way possible.
Once you have prepared and practiced your communication, presentation or training, it’s time to get your points across to an individual or 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.
Remember, the speed at which you speak and the tone of your voice will have a large impact on the way your message is received. Moving step-by-step through a presentation could be construed as boring or non-caring about what you are trying to communicate. What you think you are presenting and what others are hearing can be two very different messages. 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 may feel awkward and uncomfortable but you will begin to realize that the improved vocal variety is improving the way your message is conveyed and received.
Remember, effective communication is an intentional and practiced process. Through your increased focus on Substance, Simplicity, Structure, and Speed, your communications will become more consistent, powerful, and most importantly, more effective.
About the Author:
Mark A. Vickers is a Certified Professional Coach, a Gitomer Certified Advisor, and Certified World Class Speaking Coach. Mark is a communications consultant focused on helping you and your organization achieve excellence through improved communication and speaking skills. He is known for creating and delivering specialized and innovative programs to help his clients. For more information about Mark and his workshops, consulting, certification programs, please visit: http://speakingisselling.com/
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