We have all experienced a time in our lives where someone was talking at us and not to us. Think of a time when you were sitting in a room listening to someone present a particular idea. The speaker was monotone and read each word on the PowerPoint slide. You look at the time and you still have over a half-hour in the meeting before you can go back to doing your work. Let’s flip the role, what if you were the speaker and you could sense the audience was not engaged and was anxious to get it over with? How does that feel?
Communicating for impact requires us to plan ahead. If we want to turn those disengaged individuals to actively engaged we need to keep some things in mind before we present. Communicating for impact requires us to plan ahead, especially if we want it to be memorable. Here is what you can do:
- Clearly define ‘what is in it for me’ or the W.I.I.F.M. People are busy and often times their minds are traveling to other responsibilities or events in their lives when someone is speaking. If you want to engage them you need to tell them the benefit they will receive from listening.
- Use repetition to reinforce key concepts. If you have a key point, make sure to emphasize it multiple times. The more they hear it, the more it will stick out in their mind.
- Be authentic. Use language that is specifically yours, do not try to repeat something word for word from a slide or regurgitate verbatim the words from another person. Find your own voice and use it to bring the content alive.
- Customize your communication. If you are speaking to a board of directors or front-line employees, you need to modify your message. Know who your audience is and incorporate things that are relevant to each group.
- Use stories and analogies. Stories and analogies can be a great way to help the participant understand the key points you are trying to make. Stories are very impactful tools for adult learners, often times they will remember the key points and the story together. Stories can also make it easier for the audience to teach others.
- Listen. When people are asking questions, actively listen to understand any areas of confusion or additional ways you can tailor the message to support comprehension.
- Follow up. After the initial meeting or presentation, follow up with key points of emphasis in an email. Encourage individuals to respond back personally with any questions if they need more assistance. Follow up can be a great way to ensure the message was received as intended.