When you are a leader, the most important thing you do is communicate. You communicate with your employees, coworkers, and other leaders. If you effectively communicate with others, you will likely be an effective leader.
Is It Important to Effectively Communicate?
A little while back, I was asked to attend a conference. I was excited and knew it would be a great experience. There were several presentations on a variety of topics related to leadership and how to effectively communicate your message. The majority of the presentations were exceptional and very beneficial to all in attendance.
There was one presentation, however, that stood out for the wrong reasons. The speaker was not prepared to effectively communicate his message. With the focus of the conference on leadership and how to be a great leader and communicator, this speaker got up and started speaking the politics of education.
His topic was a interesting, but it didn’t fit in with the purpose of the conference. In addition, he didn’t identify where he was going with his presentation. As I sat there listening, many questions came to my mind. “What is the focus of his presentation? Where is he going with this? How is he going to relate this to leadership? How many points is he going to talk about?” After he was done speaking, I asked the others at my table what they thought. They all felt lost as to where he was going as well. The speaker didn’t effectively communicate his message.
If you are anything like me, you have probably sat through a presentation before like the one I mentioned. The speaker probably had several points, but didn’t hook you from the beginning. The speaker didn’t effectively communicate the message. I had a hard time figuring out the context of his presentation, what his main points were, where he was going with his speech, etc. As he started his presentation, he failed to let the audience know the topic and its relevance. It didn’t take long and the audience was completely lost. From there, they began thinking about other things.
How You Can Effectively Communicate
So how can you effectively communicate your message and avoid losing your audience? There are many ways this can be done. One approach I recommend is Twain’s Rule, “Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em. Tell ’em. Tell ’em what you told ’em.”
“Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em.” To effectively communicate your message, let your audience know what you are going to talk about. Explain the context of your message and the points you intend to make. This gives your audience a reference point to start from. Your audience then has an outline to follow which helps them stay on track.
“Tell ’em.” Once you have given your audience the outline, you can effectively communicate your message. Stay on point with your message and follow the outline you have given. Don’t get sidetracked with stories that don’t relate to your message. Once you go off topic, your audience will lose interest and tune you out.
“Tell ’em what you told ’em.” In your conclusion re-emphasize your points to close the loop by summarizing the points discussed. Reiterate the invitations and/or action items while the topics are fresh in their minds.
This approach is very useful for a formal presentation, but also enables you to effectively communicate your message in other settings. I have used this technique in meetings which helped keep everyone on task. Have you used this approach before? How has it helped you to communicate your message? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!