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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guest Post: Is Your Voice Being Heard?

Our world is clogged with promiscuous noise offering everything from eternal youth to creating your own avatar on Facebook. We are bombarded  relentlessly with information through more channels than we could ever have imagined.

At work.  How many emails come into your inbox each day? How many unnecessary meetings do you attend?


Walking to get your lunch. Billboards, shopfronts, audio, people with flyers.


At play. Advertising on every website, on social media, in every game.


Well intentioned information that’s shared by others to help you with your work.


The point is, we are all so submerged in information that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be heard.


Ever been presenting an idea in a meeting to see people texting or checking emails? It’s ok, go ahead, I’m listening. Ever been giving a presentation to see glazed looks in eyes or worse, people nodding off.


To cut through the clutter we need 3 things.


  • To have a sense of purpose for each piece of communication.
  • To understand what information is relevant to your audience.
  • The ability to structure the information in a way that is easily followed.

You don’t set off on a holiday without a destination do you? Even our most carefree travellers who may say, I’m off to Europe, still have a destination in mind. Where do you want your audience to be at the end of your presentation? Having a clear purpose in your mind allows us to filter irrelevant information as well as keeping ourselves on track.

Let me show you what I mean. Say I am the headmaster of a school and my purpose is to motivate my audience of Year 11 & 12 boys to eat healthier food. 

So when I’m planning my presentation do I include:
a) information on how eating well can help you live longer
b) information on how eating well gives you guns
c) information on how eating well reduces pimples, makes you look better and helps you get girls
 

Get it?  Purpose acts as a filter when you plan your presentation or any other important conversation.

How do you know what is relevant to your audience? Do your research. And this can be as deep as you need. Who are they? Age? Gender? Salary? Interests? What do they know about your topic? What do they need to know? What motivates them? Where do they live? What do you imagine their lives are like? Walk in their shoes. Get in their heads. When you do, you will create content that nails your target every time. And that means you’re cutting through the clutter.


So thanks to your purpose you’ve got a whole heap of relevant information.


But if you throw it out randomly you will lose your audience.  The way you structure your information is critical. Your listeners need to be taken on a clear cut journey. There are several ways to create this structure but it will always need a logical flow. Let’s go back to our teenage boys.


Not so Great Structure

 
Better Structure

 
 



 

Simply by placing the benefit up front (in this case) you have the audience’s attention.

Do not confuse being an extrovert and being able to wing it casually in front of 10 or 1000 as being a great communicator. The fact that you’re the one asked to speak at weddings and funerals may just mean you are less scared of public speaking than anyone else.

To be a great communicator you need purpose, you need relevance and you need structure BEFORE anything else. But when you can rise above the noise and articulate well in a boardroom or a ballroom you are noticed and promoted. You are seen as confident and knowledgeable. You are heard and that means you can influence, getting more of what you want.



Lynne Schinella is a professional business speaker, corporate trainer and CEO of Ripe Learning. She can be contacted on 612 9929 8989 or emailed at lynne@ripestuff.com