Have you ever listened to a presentation and walked away not knowing what you were supposed to do with the information? Worse yet, was there a time where you didn’t remember much that was said? As leaders, we face the challenge of how to create memorable messages and communicate with clarity all the time.
Knowing that, my team and I decided to ramp up our game recently and do a dry run of three separate presentations we were preparing. After each practice presentation, I asked the team to provide constructive feedback to each presenter. What we learned in the process was invaluable.
While each of us thought we were communicating our information clearly, once each slide deck was presented, the resulting messages weren’t always crystal clear. One of our team members remarked, “I’m not understanding the purpose of your presentation…what do you want the audience to do with the information?” That one question helped each of us refine our approach, reduce the number of key points we tried to communicate, and create clear consistent messaging. The outcome was much better when each of us went “live” with our presentations last week.
Focusing on the top 2 or 3 messages you want your audience to hear and understand can really help refine a message. Additionally, here are some tips for communicating with clarity adapted from workplace communication skills expert Deb Calvert:
- Consider Your Audience: Who is your audience? What specifically do they need to know? And what do you want them to do with the information?
- Say Exactly What You Mean: Think about communicating your message in a direct and unoffensive way. What superfluous information can you eliminate?
- Avoid Jargon: Eliminate specialized terminology that may not make sense to your audience. Keep language clear and understandable.
- Keep it Short and Simple: What are the highlights and key points in your message? Be prepared to answer questions, but don’t overwhelm your audience with details unless they ask.
- Ask for a Playback: What do you expect your audience to do in response to your communication? To check for understanding, ask them to play back what they will do.
- Over-Communicate: Is your message important? If so , repeat it! Repetition helps people to remember key messages. In my team, we have a saying “8 times, 8 ways.” People need to see and hear a message multiple times through multiple channels in order to retain the information.
What tips do you have for communicating with clarity?