From the sales floor to the boardroom, your ability to deliver a message with clarity will have a dramatic impact on your success.

When it comes to your spoken communications, planning and preparation allows you to deliver your message more effectively, increasing the likelihood others will respond as desired.

As you consider your approach to any conversation or presentation, consider the four keys to developing clarity:

  • Substance
  • Simplicity
  • Structure
  • Speed

Substance

When you are communicating with others you have a message to share and a desired outcome of the conversation.

When you focus on the substance, you start taking an intentional look at your message to identify the key essential elements. By devoting time to developing your message, you increase your probability of success.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the most important details I need to share?
  • What do I want them to remember?
  • What action do I want them to take?
  • What can I say or ask that will help them take action?
  • What story could I share to illustrate benefits?

These questions will help you identify the most important substance of your presentation and begin developing a strategic outline.

Simplicity

Having identified your core substance, ask yourself: How can I deliver this in the most simplistic manner possible?

Keep in mind that when you are presenting to others, they are:

  • Listening to you
  • Processing the information
  • Thinking about the information and what it means to them
  • Watching you
  • Distracted by their surroundings
  • Feeling their cell phone vibrating
  • Thinking about other things they need to do

Given the level of thought and distraction occurring within the mind of your listener, the more straightforward your message, the higher the probability it will stick.

As you develop your message, consider:

  • Using simple terminology, avoiding buzzwords and jargon
  • Using shorter, more concise sentences
  • Using a short story to illustrate a point

Keep in mind that the intent of “Simplicity” is not to talk down to people, but to present a message that is easy to understand, interpret, and act on.

Structure

Once you are clear on your key message and wording, developing the structure of your discussion or presentation will help you avoid missteps.

Some of the key areas that require attention are:

  • Rapport building
  • Opening
  • Information gathering
  • Information sharing
  • Story structure and placement
  • Closing/call to action

As you become more strategic about the structure of your presentations, you will develop a library of common openings, stories, and calls to action that you will be comfortable using in a variety of situations.

Speed

You have prepared your information, now it’s time to talk to a customer or present to a group. During any form of presentation it is important to use vocal variety (tone, volume, and speed) to avoid having your standard speaking tone become monotonous.

Vocal variety throughout your presentation provides two benefits:

  1. Maintaining engagement and interest in your material
  2. Highlighting critical elements without additional words

Here are some tips for intentionally using speed to create greater impact:

  • Record yourself speaking normally to determine your baseline speed, tone, and volume.
  • Highlight points that you are excited about, and practice saying those at a faster rate to convey excitement.
  • Highlight important points, and practice slowing down to convey importance.
  • Practice using pauses to allow your listener to connect to your points, and consider their impact.

Through your increased focus on Substance, Simplicity, Structure, and Speed, your presentations to your customers or audience will become more consistent, powerful, and most importantly, more effective.


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Originally Published in Advantage Business Magazine
The Secrets to Communicating with Clarity
Web Version | Digital Mag