Most of us focus on our message when communicating, but if you want to be heard first focus on your audience.
- Know your audience – Know how much they already know on the subject so you are speaking to them instead of above or below them. Know if they need to see numbers and date, or prefer stories.
- Understand non-verbal communication – Over 90% of your message is non-verbal so watch your tone of voice and body language. Likewise, watch your audience’s body language – are they looking at their watches, pointing their feet at the door, looking bored?
- Be clear on your message – Know what you want to say and what you want your audience to do because of what you say. Then tell them more than once!
- Start and end with the key points – At the beginning tell people what you are going to talk about, then get into details on the main points. At the end summarize with what you said.
- Tell people why the message is important – As communicators, we are close to the subject and might forget to tell people why what you are saying is important. Reinforce the reasons for the communication, the implications and the possible consequences of not taking action.
- Slow down – People can listen faster than we can talk. But that doesn’t mean we should speak quickly. People need time to think about what we have said, to make sense out of it and what the implications could be in their life. So pause, breathe, slow down.
- Add the unexpected– Your message will be better remembered if you add something novel to your communication. A story, a joke, an interesting photo will all help people retain your message.
- Ask for feedback – Ask and listen to people’s feedback. They’ll know if you are being sincere in wanting feedback (see tip 1!)
Focus on your audience first, and your message second.This is the best way for ensuring people remember and take action on what you say.
Want to “up” your communication game? Contact me Valerie.MacLeod@HainesCentre.com