You’ve done important work, and you’re trying to get the team to understand your point. But before you get to page 3, John’s flipping to the back of the deck, Carol’s obviously distracted by her text messages, and you’d swear you saw a glimpse of Words With Friends on Tracy’s iPad. It’s true, that’s rude. What’s equally true is that this scene is calling for better communication.
I spoke with Joseph McCormack, author of Brief: Make a bigger Impact by Saying Less. His book offers great advice and tools for everything from presentations to sales pitches to small talk. I asked him for some advice for some of the more difficult communication situations.
Better Communication: Q &A with Joseph McCormack
Q- What do you do when you’re presenting and you notice visible distractions like jumping ahead or multi-tasking?
A- First don’t let it happen. Plan better. But to bring them back, speak in headlines. People fidget because they’re confused. Use stories to draw them back in. When speakers tell stories, they automatically relax. That comfort, along with the story, makes a connection that draws-in attention.
Q-What if you work in a Powerpoint and bullet-point addicted culture? How can you incorporate some of these ideas and still fit in with the culture?
A- Be prepared to give the entire presentation in 3 minutes if something happened to your slides. Then start with that executive summary. Now they have a map to follow as you give the rest of your presentation. Also, there’s a free online tool called Haikudeck which helps you great visual presentations (I checked it out. Love it!)
Q- You advocate the use of stories, but don’t stories take longer than sticking to the facts?
A- You’ve really got to practice, so you can get down to the essential elements of the story. Don’t tell the 5 minute version.Get the details that drill down to the core and enhance the meaning.
Q-What suggestions do you have for leaders giving tough feedback or messages to their teams?
A- Think about what you’re really trying to say, and say THAT as early as possible Don’t extend the pain. Give bad news upfront and then the explanation.
When you’re done with a phone call, look at the elapsed time before you hit end. Then ask yourself if what you accomplished was worth the investment.
For more information about Brief and to watch videos click here.