5 Ways To Make Your Work Communication Less Boring
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend an interesting training workshop on “Presentation Best Practices” led by Tom Kennedy, a consultant who specializes in business communication. (FYI, check out The Kennedy Group website for more info.)
His content focused mainly on formal presentations, but many of these techniques can be leveraged inside and outside of work, and in less formal communications like emails.
I have summarized the “golden nuggets” from his talk into this Hub Pages article.
1) Inspiration is Better than Perspiration
In one part of the session, Tom Kennedy asked for a few volunteers to be videotaped, with no preparation time. In the first video round he asked each person to introduce themselves and what they do for work. In the second video round he asked each person to talk about something they were passionate about. The audience then watched and critiqued both videos.
Any guess on what we observed? In almost every case, the videos where people talked about their passion were much, much better. In these short videos (about things like travel, family, martial arts) the participants were more relaxed, smiled a lot and were much more engaging to listen to. In comparison, the intro videos were pretty blah.
- So…Take a few moments and think about what at work- inspires you. And then infuse that passion into all of your communications with other employees and customers.
- For me, I am passionate about trying to make a difference in the lives of the people who work in my organization. They spend a lot of time at work and I know my actions (good or bad, fast or slow) will have a direct impact on their job satisfaction and our customers’ experiences.
2) Don’t call your slides “the presentation”
Tom reinforced that our powerpoint slides should just be visual aids, and that we, the humans, are the presentation. We should go into every meeting with that mindset. This means fewer stats and graphs and more storytelling and visual aids. Why? Your audience will be much more engaged.. see #1.
3) Know The Elevator Pitch of Your Presentation or Message
What I am about to share happens on an almost a daily basis. I attend a 1 hour meeting that someone else is not able to attend. That someone else approaches me and asks how the meeting was. I often say.. “the quick and the dirty of the meeting was.. and then sum it up in about two sentences”. Yes..I sum up an hour meeting in 2 sentences. A little disturbing, but that is what happens in corporate America all the time.
So, if you are presenting you should think about what that elevator message is.. or the 2 sentences. Ideally you should have that main message on one of your slides, and ideally end your meeting that way. If you don’t clearly communicate it, others will make it up for you.
4) Make It Personal
Tom Kennedy shared that in his opinion, the four essential ingredients of any successful presentation or business communication are: make it personal, make it reciprocal, make it simple yet vivid and make it memorable.
I attempted to use this advice in a presentation I had at work this past week. A coworker and I were asked to summarize and present a Harvard Business Review Case study on effectively implementing a business strategy, which is a pretty dry topic. To make it more interesting, we added some humorous banter up front and then leveraged a personal story to reinforce the article’s main points.
5) This Ain’t Just About Powerpoint
We can leverage all of these techniques in our every-day communication with customers and fellow employees. We can leverage these techniques via telephone, in person or email.
If we sound passionate about our work; if we infuse some humor and stories into our discussions; if we rely on examples versus a bunch of slides etc, our communication will be much more effective.
Customers will be more satisfied with their experiences and will likely respond to us faster when we need them. Other employees will look forward to talking with you. You will be even more awesome than you already are!!