Communication Mastery is a level few people operate at. Yet it’s something that’s actually quite easy to achieve. The difference is in the way the message is prepared and received, and it can be achieved by integrating three simple principles into your daily communications:
1. Get Clear on Your Objectives
Ordinary communicators whip off an email, leave a quick voicemail, or rush into a meeting with their minds on something else.
Communication Masters, on the other hand, imagine each and every communication event down the line to its ideal conclusion before they ever start typing, talking, or walking into a conference room. And they do it by asking – and answering – four questions:
What specific desired outcomes do I personally want from this communication?
What action do I want the recipient(s) to take as a result of my presentation?
What must the recipient(s) know, say, or do differently when my presentation is over?
When are these actions required?
Let’s say, for example, that you’re leaving someone a voice message. Do you want the recipient to call you back with a certain piece of information, write you a letter, tell his or her assistant to schedule a meeting, buy your product immediately, or simply get his or her mind turning in preparation for a follow-up presentation?
Articulate to yourself exactly what the goal of your presentation is, and exactly what the recipient has to do in order for that goal to be achieved.
You may even want to write down the objective in either a short sentence or short list of bullets and then keep that list handy and top of mind during the presentation.
2. Apply the Presentation Platinum Rule
We all know The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.
This is good advice, but those who communicate effectively use the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they want to be done unto. Communicate the way others want to receive your message – not the way you like to be communicated to!
Everyone receives and processes information differently. Once you realize this distinction about human nature, your power and communication effectiveness will be enhanced. Master Communicators are flexible. They rarely make the same presentation twice because they know each recipient is different. They learn the composition of the person or people they’re presenting to before the presentation begins, then adjust accordingly.
The best way to determine how people want to receive your message is to take a look at how they communicate their own messages to you. The more your communications are able to mirror back to the recipients their own likes and preferences, the more likely they are to respond quickly and positively to your message. If they use email, you use email. If they always call you, use the phone. (See Match your Recipient’s Communication Style.)
You can utilize the Platinum Rule even if you’ve never met the person you are making a presentation to. Imagine, for example, that your goal is to create a joint venture between your organization and XYZ Industries, and in order to do it, you need to get your proposal to the president-someone you’ve never met. What does XYZ Industries’ website look like? Do they have a public persona, a “vibe” they want to convey? How does the president dress – conservatively, casually, or with an edge? Are there any articles about him or her or interviews that you can read? Does the corporate literature contain any letters-from-the-president – type content that might offer some insights into his or her personality, likes, and dislikes, or do you have any shared acquaintances who may be able to give you insight?
All of this information will enable you to shape your presentation in a way that will resonate with your prospect on a deep personal level. For example, if the president is young and the XYZ is a web company, you might send an audio postcard via email. If the company is a manufacturing company without a website, you might infer that a personal letter is best.
3. Address the ‘So What?’ Factor
The difference between communicators and Communication Masters is that masters constantly and continuously target the recipient(s) pains, needs, and objectives with every presentation opportunity. They can imagine their recipient saying, “So what?” to each and every idea, bullet point, or sentence. And they make sure that their presentation delivers the response to that “So what?”
Most people, excited about the opportunity to sell their idea, product, or service, spend so much time talking about what excites them about the opportunity and the need they think it solves for their prospect, they never take the time to truly dig into the recipient’s pains or objectives. And, this is why most presentations fail. It has nothing to do with the opportunity; the failure is in the delivery because the “So what?” factor was never addressed, and the recipient never made the connection between the needs in his life and the opportunity presented.
Your first communication should be entirely exploratory, whether by email or in person. Ask leading questions. Take detailed notes. Resist the urge to offer solutions or answers. This is difficult at first, because you are naturally excited about the opportunity you have to offer. But, it is only an “opportunity” if the recipient recognizes it as an opportunity – if it satisfies their “So what?” Once you have identified the needs, weave those into every communication. Make sure that every presentation – every email, voicemail, or face-to-face meeting – recognizes those pains and addresses them. Make constant and continuous connection with your recipients, and you will have overcome the “So what?” factor.
Achieving Communication Mastery
You’re already doing the work of communicating: You’re having the conversations, writing the emails, making the phone calls, giving the speeches. Simply by integrating these three principles into all of those efforts, you will transform them from mere communications into presentations … and in so doing, multiply their effectiveness exponentially. You will accomplish more through your communications than you ever knew you could, and you’ll do it in less time and with less effort than you will believe.
By Tony Jeary