This is first in a series of a stripped-out approach to communication skills at work, looking at what’s critical. The advice is based on practical experience building engagement, dynamism and impact – and also on interesting insights from academia.
You can use these guidelines with large audiences, small meetings and 1-2-1, and they will help you prepare fast – and without fuss.
Let’s leap right in and ask yourself:
What is the subject you are addressing? ( should be short and succinct)
Who is the audience? ( backgrounds, needs, concerns)
What do you want them to think, feel, say and do as a result of your presentation?
What is the long term impression you wish to make on them, if any?
Where you’ve the luxury of time for preparation, allocate the largest amount to finding out about your audience – what their reputations are, the type of decisions they’ve made in the past and what their pet themes are.
My favourite image for useful structure is a tomato sandwich.
At the outset, this gives a reason for your case, and benefits and threats for your audience. Then, at maximum 5 pieces of evidence/illustration/scenarios to build your case, followed by a sign off, repeating your position at the start, and including any action you require.
Or to simplify even further: hook the audience, give them evidence, suggest action.
There you go: fuss free, I hope you agree.
In the next few weeks we’ll be covering delivery, impact, handling nerves, use of visuals, interactivity. If you’ve a specific query, please let me know here or on twitter@mrsmoti.