Have you ever been in a meeting where the person presenting doesn’t adapt their message to land for the audience (i.e. the team in the meeting)? Maybe they’re communicating too technically or too non-technically for their audience. Or maybe they’ve gone way too deep and have lost even the most well-versed-on-the-topic people in the audience.
Perhaps you’ve been this person. Most of us have. It’s normal.
Because our primary concern as presenters is usually getting the words out correctly and not stumbling or omitting something like an important (or unimportant) detail. And this is totally appropriate–to a degree. It becomes a problem when we over-index on getting our words our correctly to the point that we forget to consider the people on the receiving end of our message.
To prevent this, here are a few quick prompts to review prior to delivering an important update in your next meeting. These prompts are designed to help you quickly–like three minutes-quickly–and these are pulled directly from the work I do with my clients.
Jot down a quick answer to each of these questions. If you take more than two minutes, it’s totally fine. The idea is for these to be a quick resource, but you can also take your time with them if you have time at your disposal (most of my clients do not).
- Who is my audience?
- What is their level of understanding of my topic (and does it vary person to person)?
- Why might they care about this topic?
- What competing or complementary priorities might they have with this topic?
- What questions might they ask or be concerned about?
Take a look at what you wrote down. What insight have you gained that might impact your approach, your tone, or the way in which you describe your topic to this audience?
Next, ask yourself:
- What am I trying to convey to this audience in one sentence?
Write down your response to the above question. Take a look at it for a moment and then ask yourself
- What’s important about this statement to this particular audience?
When you have your answer to this, ask yourself the same question 1-2 more times. What’s important about that to my audience? And why is this important to them?
Asking yourself 2-3 times why the topic is important helps you filter your message down to a more specific benefit-focused statement for your audience. Even if you’ve only changed your original statement by 5% there is impact in this because you’ve put yourself into the audience’s perspective prior to communicating with them.
Taking three minutes to answer these questions can give you a slightly different perspective and approach to how you communicate your message. Even a 5% adjustment that is specific to your audience’s needs can improve the way your message is received.
And it can improve the likelihood of your audience taking the actions you’re recommending.