I really hadn’t intended to write on communication today but I was inspired by the conversation generated by Michael Hyatt’s post from yesterday: What Could Becoming a Better Speaker Make Possible for You?
Now, I don’t necessarily want to just cover “public speaking” here, though that certainly is a large part of it, but communication in general whether it is recorded, written, performed, transmitted…whatever. What I want to share with you are two reminders that I find really boost not only your message but your ability to communicate effectively across the board.
Reminder #1: It is NOT about you.
For years I have taught and coached at the SCORRE Conference mentioned in Michael’s blog where we train people to, among other things, be better public speakers. Did you know that there are studies that show the fear of public speaking ranks way above the fear of failure, the dark, and even death?
What we find at the conference is that a lot of folks who fear public speaking to that degree are highly worried about what people will think of them. But hang on, why are they speaking in the first place? To impress people? To make people love them? NO! Hopefully, unless they’re performing, they’re there to GIVE the audience something they NEED.
Imagine you’re on a cruise ship that is starting to tip over and you happen to be the only one in the room who knows the quickest route to the lifeboats. I’m HOPING you’ll turn into an instant public speaker and NOT be worried about what people will think of you when you start instructing them on how to get to safety.
In any form of communication, other than personal chit chat, the communicator is imparting information to the communicate-ee. How often do you intentionally communicate useless information? Never? Good, then your communication is ALWAYS about your audience.
Hear this and remember: It is NOT about you. It IS about your audience.
So you shouldn’t be worried about what they’ll think of you. You should be worried about whether they’ll understand you and the importance of what you have to tell them. Clarity is more important than cuteness.
Reminder #2: You need to know your audience as well as you know your information.
The follows naturally but it is really surprising how many people forget this one.
I get to speak on technical topics quite often. One of the topics I’ve been asked to cover is Business Intelligence…pretty broad topic really. If I go into the room expecting the audience is a technical one I cover the material from a certain perspective. If it is essentially a business audience I take a different approach. The preparation for those two talks is very different.
Imagine though that I’ve prepared the technical talk and I wind up with an audience of folks who just want to know more about the importance of BI in general, who may or may not even know what the term means other than something they’ve heard is important. DOH! I have that talk in the bag too but it is REALLY different that the other two!
Make the effort to know who is going to be on the receiving end of your communication and you’ll really ratchet up your effectiveness.
Knowing your stuff makes you the expert. Knowing the audience turns you into a trusted adviser.
How well do you know the audiences with whom you communicate? What can you do to understand them even more deeply?