Checklist for more effective communication
PERSONAL BRANDING GURU | CAREER WHIZ | WRITING EXPERT
Studies confirm our experience. Two thirds of all presentations are rated as mediocre or worse. How often have you been subjected to a 73 slide PowerPoint deck with dense, illegible slides, and a presenter who reads them to you? Have you been on the receiving end of a memo that is so chock full of jargon that it’s completely unintelligible? I’m sure you have, and you’ve probably been an offender, too. We are all to blame in this environment of Death by PowerPoint and corporate double-speak.
Although it’s easy to blame the problem on the odious PowerPoint, PowerPoint itself is not the problem. The big issue is that messaging has become unstructured, and heavily reliant on data instead of on ideas. The human brain loves ideas. Communicating primarily facts and data points leads to the sad fact that the typical retention of presentation and written materials is an abysmal 15% after two days.
Before developing your next presentation or drafting that email, consider the following to ensure that you will convey a message in a way that your intended audience will be able to consume it:
Are you addressing a problem you audience has? Do you articulate the pain? Do you have a clear summary of the audience problem?
Is your communication following a logical sequence? Does it flow in a way that aligns with logical thinking?
Does your argument make sense? Can it be proven? You don’t need to present all of the proof, just enough to be compelling, but be sure you have that proof.
Is it simple enough? Could your neighbor, who knows nothing about your field or industry, read it and understand it? If you’re presenting to a group, does it sound like actual spoken English, or is it a mosaic of jargon?
Is it about you? Do you start with a slide about who you are, what you offer, and what you do? Who cares? Make sure your communications—written communications, presentations, etc. focus on your intended audience, and not on you, your company, or your product/service/solution.
Are you “shot-gunning”? Do you have so much material that you’re overwhelming your audience with its excess?
Does each point you’re making have value? Does every point support your key message? If something doesn’t support your key message, why are you including it?
Your audience can only absorb so much information. Once you overload them, you lose them. The best piece of advice, especially for delivering a presentation, is to use fewer slides rather than more. Cull and prune. When you are composing written communication, write in plain English, and lay out the problem in simple terms.
As always, remember that it’s not about you; it’s about them!