Right about now, I find myself thinking about the New Year — my plans and goals for it. Perhaps you find yourself doing the same.
Have you ever made communication resolutions?
I always like to reflect on what I’ve done well and what I could improve upon next year when it comes to communicating with my colleagues, employees, and clients. You’d be surprised at how much you can strengthen your relationships with the people around you, when you’re able to be a bit more mindful of communication missteps.
Even small changes in how you communicate can have a big impact on how others perceive you. And, setting communication resolutions isn’t just good for individuals — organizations can also take stock of what’s gone well this past year and where they could improve in 2015.
As you think about your own communication resolutions, I thought I’d share the two communication missteps I saw professionals make most often this year — and offer tips on how to avoid them.
Be more concise.
I’m willing to bet that you sat through at least one presentation or meeting this year during which you couldn’t help but look at your watch, check your email, doodle on a notepad, or just stare blankly at the presenter in an effort to seem interested.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to let your presentation grow too long. Whether, out of passion for the topic or because they possess a level of technical knowledge their audience doesn’t, people often delve into detail that’s unnecessary or unwanted.
Here’s how to avoid the trap of too much detail:
- Better plan out your presentation, by distinguishing between must-know information and nice-to-know information.
- Use fewer slides. Use Mandel’s 5+1 Slide Strategy.™
- Improve your slides by putting data into the appendix of the slide deck or handout. Or, make use of the “hide slide” feature in PowerPoint.
It’s always tempting to put a lot of data into your presentations, but rarely will a non-technical audience appreciate it.
Be more dynamic.
Admit it – this past year, you also sat through one or two presentations where you thought you might actually fall asleep. And, it wasn’t because you weren’t interested in the content.
A boring delivery will make even the most interesting content difficult to digest. Slight adjustments in body language and vocal energy can dramatically improve your delivery and keep your audience engaged and focused.
- Don’t be afraid to move around when you present.
- Let your gestures flow naturally.
- Amp up your vocal energy. It may feel unnatural, but your audience will appreciate it — especially if they’re listening in by phone or computer.
Finally, I’m a firm believer that there’s always room for improvement.
I may be a communications coach and trainer, but I’m also human. I still make mistakes and I’m always striving to improve my delivery. So, even if you’re already a great presenter, hopefully by being mindful of the above tips, you can become an even better one.
Or, perhaps this blog will serve to stimulate your own thinking about how you and your organization can improve your communications moving forward.
As always, thank you for being a loyal blog reader. On behalf of the entire Mandel organization worldwide, I wish you a very peaceful and prosperous New Year!