Working World

Issue 450

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April 27 - May 18, 2015 18 Working World l A fter learning to create and present a clear and succinct value proposi- tion, Gerry, the owner of a small company, was overheard lamenting: "I had no idea how important it was to get rid of all those extra words and slow down. How many sales have I lost over the last 5 years because my prospects didn't understand my message?" Gerry's response is typical when busi- ness owners and executives realize they have been overwhelming people with information but under-messaging them. From the showroom to the boardroom, your ability to deliver a message with clar- ity will have a dramatic impact on your success. What is the cost of un-clear com- munication within your organization? When it comes to your spoken commu- nications, planning and preparation allows you to deliver your message more effec- tively, increasing the likelihood others will respond as desired. As you consider your approach to any conversation or presen- tation, consider the four keys to develop- ing clarity: • Substance • Simplicity • Structure • Speed SUBSTANCE When you are communicating with oth- ers, you have a message to share and a desired outcome of the conversation. When you focus on the substance, you start taking an intentional look at your message to identify the key message and essential elements. By devoting time to developing your message you increase your probability of success. Ask yourself: • What is the single most important mes- sage I want them to hear? • 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 help you identify the most important substance of your presentation and form a strategic outline. During your contemplation of sub- stance you will invariably encounter a degree of "Ego Impact." While you would like to believe that people care about ev- erything you have to say… they don't. As part of your message development pro- cess, continually ask "Who cares?" When you consider what you are pre- senting from the perspective of your au- dience, you can honestly assess whether or not they care about certain statements or points. By removing elements that your listener doesn't care about, you will begin to create truly powerful and impactful messages using fewer words than you imagined possible. SIMPLICITY 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 pre- senting 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 distrac- tion occurring within the mind of your listener, the more straightforward your message, the higher the probability your message will stick with them. 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 simplic- ity is not to talk down to people but to present a message that is easy to under- stand, interpret, and act on. During your process of simplifying your message, don't be surprised if your Ego kicks in again. Part of your mind will try to convince you that those fancy, com- plicated words and long sentences with multiple commas and semi-colons make you sound more impressive. Remind yourself that "less words = more message". STRUCTURE 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 • Opening • Information gathering • Information sharing • Story structure and placement • Closing/call to action As you become more strategic about the structure of your presentations, you will develop a library of common open- ings, stories, and calls to action that you will be comfortable using in a variety of situations. FEATURED ARTICLE by Mark A. Vickers 4 Secrets to Communicating with Clarity

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