You're at a meeting. It could be a company status meeting, a networking event, or a formal presentation. The person takes the floor and suddenly your eyes glaze over. You start to yawn and fidget in your seat. A team member lets out an exasperated sigh. Two people are making eye contact as if to say, "Get a load of this". You wonder "What the heck is this person talking about?" Will they ever get to the point? That's what happens when a speaker is unclear. The presentation loses impact and the message, if it's heard at all, is quickly lost. What remains is a negative perception. It's not the message-it's the way you communicate the message that determines whether it's heard and accepted.
To communicate with clarity, here are four tips that you can apply to any situation.
Know your outcome. While this sounds obvious, it's not. I coach many leaders and business professionals and they're not always clear about their expectations..And that's why the message is unfocused. To gain crystal clear focus, start with your outcome. At the end of the presentation, what do you expect? Agreement? A sale, a next appointment?
State your purpose. Your purpose is not always the same as your outcome. For example, your outcome may be to close a sale in one meeting. But you wouldn't want to say, "Today, my purpose is to sell you my product." A purpose statement is a sentence that clarifies what you'll be doing in the meeting. "My purpose is to demonstrate the importance of cyber security and give you some tips on how to safe guard your data" Don't assume the listeners know the purpose of the meeting.
Present a visual agenda. People need a roadmap and the agenda will keep you on track. When you start to go off on a tangent, look down at the agenda and come back to the topic. Be sure to assign a time for each agenda item. Timing each item will help you monitor yourself.
Cite an example, not a story. Storytelling is powerful, but if you tend to be verbose, use short examples instead. When making a point, follow it with "for example," or "to illustrate...". Giving examples will connect the points for the listeners. Use the PEP formula. Make a point, give an example, underscore the point.
If you tend to be long winded, use these 4 steps in your next presentation and you'll speak with clarity.