If you’re like most people you’re very busy. You’re probably running from one meeting to another (or logging in and out of one meeting after another on zoom) without much thought or preparation each time.
When we present our ideas in meetings, or even in informal conversations it is common to just turn up and wing it. We often don’t find the time to prepare for our meetings properly.
When we are thinking on our feet and speaking off the cuff, we can find that the thought in our head is not the same as the words we actually say! Have you had that happen? In your mind the thoughts you are thinking are super clear, but when you say it, it doesn’t come out the way you really mean it and now it’s not clear to you or your audience anymore. It’s just confusing to everyone! Oh dear!
Add to this, that a lot of times, as the presenter, we know our material so well that we think we are making each point clearly. After all, this is the way you’ve always explained this! Unfortunately, you might not be as clear as you think you are. Don’t assume your audience got the point!
What should you do instead?
I recommend that you use a best-practice model for crafting your communication in the first place so that it sticks in your stakeholders’ minds and they are compelled to take the action you require. A model such as Bernice McCarthy’s 4Mat model provides you with a clear, easy-to-follow structure that helps you get your thoughts out clearly. It also makes it very easy for your audience to understand your key messages. The 4Mat model suggests that you cover four questions that your audience is wondering the answer to: why? What? How? And, what if?
What does this mean?
– Make sure you are telling people why the matter you are raising is important to them. It’s the ‘why’ around our ideas that makes them spread. Articulate the ‘why’ so your audience understands what’s magnificent about your big idea.
– Make sure you explain the ‘what’, which is your facts and data. It’s important to give some research or proof that what you’re talking about it worth considering.
– Include some ‘how’ in there too, so people who like to take action can do so easily. The how is the next steps or the actions that need to be taken.
– And finally remember to include time for questions and discussion so people can clarify any missing points. Make sure in this section that you probe for understanding. Ask open questions and get your audience talking about what they think it all means to them. In this way you are making sure that your audience did in fact get the point.
If you need some more insight into models that work to craft messages that stick, please take a look at my best-selling book, How to Present: the ultimate guide to presenting your ideas and influencing people using techniques that actually work (Wiley). It’s available in my website shop. Or join me in one of my upcoming Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclasses in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane Australia. You can register here: https://michellebowden.com.au/program-bookings/
Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best-selling internationally published author (Wiley), and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media. www.michellebowden.com.au