There are three important moving parts in any communication experience – and keeping each in mind will serve you well every single day. Seeing and understanding the three parts helps you balance your message and heighten the impact of that message – otherwise, and this happens WAY too often – you’re really just talking to yourself.
Many times you’ve heard you need to keep your audience in mind when you speak, but this is more than that. Yes, pass everything you say thru how it will be understood by your audience, but a great communicator does more.
A great communicator is always operating in 3-D.
The First Dimension: You – We start with the easy stuff. You have to have clarity before you ever can be effective. That means being healthy, focused, rested and clear on where you are going with the interaction. Are those always in perfect alignment? Of course not, but we do the best we can, right? The point is, if you’re already way off on the “you” part of this equation, can we really be surprised when the rest of the pieces fall apart? If you’re prepping for a speech, important conversation or interview, start with a plan that has you firing on all cylinders or as close to it as possible. That solid foundation helps everything after. When giving a speech, for example, I always suggest going to the room where you’ll be speaking the day before and – ideally – practicing there. Envisioning success always brings it closer.
The Second Dimension: Your Message – Too many times just feeling good about oneself seems like it’s enough. “I’m having a good day – I can do anything.” Those are good days, but you need more and it starts with your message. What are you hoping to communicate and can you think of it in multiple layers? Are you ready for objections? What is the toughest question you could face? Have you thought of a story that can bring your message home? Is this the first time you’re bringing it up or have you covered this topic before? Do you need to spice it up a bit or simplify it? The bottom line for the message is you can be great and the audience can be receptive, but if you really have no clear or compelling message it is a waste of time – and most people HATE wasting their time!
The Third Dimension: The Audience – Weirdly, this is very often the most overlooked part of the equation. “I’m great, I’ve got a great message – who cares about the audience – they’re lucky to hear me!” Oh man, have I seen this play out way too many times. From ignorance or arrogance or evangelical fervor, it can happen. ALWAYS assume you have to earn the audience’s buy-in – because you do. Every time. The more often you start there, the more often you will be successful. Also, you can’t know enough about the audience and you will always have imperfect audience knowledge. But, none of that should stop you from getting still more info about the audience. Right up until the moment you walk into the room, and in those first moments in front of them, they’ll be telling you about themselves, even if they don’t say a word. Use all of your senses to take it in. Thinking on your feet and adjusting to your audience is an ever-evolving skill that will pay benefits every day. Think in 3-D and feel its power!
Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting, www.clear-comm.net, a Phoenix, AZ-based communications consulting firm which is helping people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.