Do you ever feel like you have a great message to share but just can’t quite communicate it adequately to get people to act or be inspired? Maybe you feel no one listens and you don’t get the respect you want from your colleagues and managers. You aren’t alone if you do.
There are many potential reasons that interfere with a solid presentation. I like to think of these reasons as distractions. When a distraction is present, there is little hope of getting your message across because your listener will start paying attention to that. And once they are paying attention to a distraction, they are no longer listening to you. And once they are no longer listening to you, you have lost credibility and influence. Here is just one example of how a distraction interfered with a young executive’s credibility.
Philip had a conciseness problem. He spoke too long, he spoke too much, and by the time he completed his message, he often missed the point. In fact, the audience didn’t ever know the points he was trying to make and lost track of the message.
People complained that he dominated the staff meetings and conference calls with too many irrelevant details. He was unable to persuade people about his ideas and had very little overall impact in most all of his interactions. He felt defeated and disrespected. Philip needed to learn how to say more with less.
The goal for Philip was to learn to be succinct 100% of the time. In order to make progress on his goal, Philip needed to understand his audience–what they valued and what was meaningful to them.
Through a process of intentional reflection about all of Philip’s audiences (both large and small), Philip could determine what information they wanted and needed to hear. For example, Philip’s boss was a busy man. He valued his time. When Philip met with him, he knew that brevity was important. That meant that Philip needed to be crystal clear about his message to his boss. Not only that, Philip specifically asked for the agendas of his meetings so that he could prepare his notes and know exactly what point he needed to make. Armed with an information sheet on every one of his audiences, Philip referred to it frequently. Before each meeting, he wrote out his objectives for the meeting and the information that he wanted to convey under each point. Then he worked on how to shorten each of these responses until it was concise and clear. Each time he spoke to them, he was prepared to give a message with which they could resonate.
By studying his audience and preparing his notes, he built stronger relationships with his team because he came across really knowing and understanding them.
After preparing very diligently for a PowerPoint presentation and then presenting it, Philip enjoyed the many accolades he received from his peers about how clear and concise his messages were and how nice it was to end the meeting on time. Philip was amazed.
The next meeting was even more important. He was presenting to senior leadership. Philip decided that he would just make his points without any explanation. He thought that if anybody would need more information, they would ask. If somebody asked him questions about any points, he was ready to give him a longer response.
Philip did exactly as he prepared and only gave the bare minimum that was needed for these very busy senior executives. He did have to answer one question that he was ready to answer clearly and concisely because he had anticipated possible questions and prepared for them. Philip enjoyed getting back to his office and receiving an email from his boss who said he had done a fantastic job. Philip reported that he felt empowered. It was clear that his brevity had payed off.
If you suffer from the difficult task of being succinct and clear with your messages, we can help you, too with a clear path of how to speak clearly and concisely. Request a complimentary strategy session today.
Lynda Stucky coaches mid-senior level executives on using their speech and voice effectively to establish credibility, position themselves within their company, and enhance their reputation as a topic authority. She provides training through one-on-one coaching and online courses to reduce foreign accents, “redd-up” regional accents, and teach speech and voice branding for image control. She is President of ClearlySpeaking, and is a certified and licensed speech-language pathologist. She is the author of "Voice Branding for Executives: How to Align Your Speech, Language, and Voice Skills with Your Professional Goals." Her background in speech pathology offers unique skills for dealing with professional communication skills in the corporate world. She believes communication skills should not hold anyone back from achieving personal and professional goals.