The leadership competence of delivering succinct communications with clarity is extraordinarily powerful, so why do so many leaders fail to master the skill? The amygdola (or reptile brain) is hardwired to be impatient and to be somewhat negative (it is the fear centre of our brains) so if we don’t capture the interest of the audience in a short period of time it is likely that those listening will either turn off or even have negative emotions as the lizard in our heads considers the worst.
Presentations, meetings and communications that fail to engage, frustrates the audience and can lead to a loss of productivity and motivation.
I once had a leader who would use what he referred to as “the rule of three – tell, telling and told”. You start any communication by telling the audience about what you are going to tell them, you then go into the detail of what you were telling them, lastly you summarise with revisiting what you told them. There would always be three points… Thus sounded a little like this “good morning everyone, today I have three things to tell you which are 1, 2 & 3” at the end of the presentation it was reversed “so as I said at the start we had 3 things to cover and they were 1, 2 and 3“.
Petersen-More refers to four key aspects to any effective communication.
- Be strategic. Ensure that your presentation is clearly aligned to strategic goal you wish to communicate – break down the key points and ensure that the message covers each and that the flow is logical and conclusive.
- Practice. A good presentation has been practiced, numerous times (ideally at least 4 full run throughs aloud). A good technique is to write out the long form speech of what you want to say first, then later you don’t need to use it but you have managed to get all your thoughts clear and in order, not just the bullet points!
- Check for understanding. If you practiced the communication in front of someone else, ask for feedback – check “what was I trying to say?”
- Leave time for Q&A. Engaging your audience in the dialogue is much more likely to to achieve a higher level of understanding. Make sure you leave enough time for questions at the end and if you are confident of the material it can be effective to ask questions as you proceed through so that the connection is stronger all the way through and the audience doesn’t have time to get distracted and disconnect.
- Be strategic. List the points to be made to achieve the goal, and then pare them down to the essentials. Consider the rule of three.
- Practice. Practice in your head, out loud, or in front of another person, and time it.
- Check for understanding. Get feedback on how it sounded and check your messages were understood.
- Leave time for Q&A. Engage with your audience.
Synopsis of an article from SmartBrief Less is more: Communication tips for maximum impact by Diana Peterson-More Published: 20th October 2020 https://www.smartbrief.com/original/2020/10/less-more-communication-tips-maximum-impact?