I recently worked with an Indian executive based in the USA, an American executive based in Singapore, an Australian executive based in the UK, and a Chinese executive based in Shanghai. And they all complain about the same problems:
“My people need to learn how to get to the point.”
“We have too many meaningless meetings.”
“I need more context.”
Regardless of industry, native language, or country of operations, executives the world over have the same complaint – their people need to do a better job at communicating clearly and succinctly.
So if you want to impress the people around you, improve the morale of the people around you, and positively add to your organizational culture, here are some behaviors to think about adopting:
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.Walk into the room ready to go. Don’t wing it. Plan ahead of time what you want or need to say, what the key points are, what the value is, and what the story is.
2. Know your audience.Avoid the “one size fits all” approach to communication. Different audiences will care about different things, require different levels of detail, see different value, and ask different questions. Think about it ahead of time, and plan for it.
If they are flipping to your last slide in the first minute or two, your audience may be impatient.
3. Get to the point.We’re not writing movie scripts here. No one benefits from suspenseful workplace communication. Tell the audience up front what the main message is. If they are flipping to your last slide in the first minute or two, your audience may be impatient. But the bigger problem is that your message is out of sequence.
4. Provide context.The more senior your audience is, the more important context becomes. Explain right up front, not only what the topic is, but why it is relevant to the audience. Make it clear.
5. Manage the details.Details matters, but does your audience really need to know all the details? I think not. Be ready to go deeper into detail based on their questions and the flow of the conversation, but don’t assume that your audience will want all the detail. Be ready to provide it, but wait for them to take you there. Too much detail hurts more often than it helps.
When you are prepared, know your audience, get to the point, provide context and manage detail you will be communicating in ways that create competitive advantage for you and positively adds to the organization. And perhaps most importantly, you will be demonstrating that you value and respect everyone else’s time, because your meetings, conference calls and presentations will be efficient, clear, valuable, and will more often than not end on time. Think about how powerful those outcomes would be for your personal and professional brand.