Welcome to Presenting With Power and I’m your host: Aileen Pincus.
Have you ever been in the audience, at a meeting, or listening to a briefing and found yourself wondering: What’s The Point as the speaker drones on? It’s not uncommon. You probably were listening to someone who didn’t understand the assignment. The assignment for ANYONE doing to the talking in these settings is to supply the SO WHAT…and to do it quickly. The longer you spend leading up to your point, the harder it will be for your audience to stay tuned for your supporting information and detail.
That SO WHAT are your messages. Now in my practice, the number one challenge we see with executives speaking or presenting in these professional settings is understanding what a message is. Messages are your bottom line; the thing you want your audience to take away after listening to you. Sure, there’ll be more information than that you’re going to supply them—but all of those things should be in support of a few key messages.
That’s because in oral communication, you’re going to lose some of your audience if you don’t make it clear from the get-go that you’re giving your audience something worth listening to. Before you can get someone to understand the action you want to take, or the problem you’re laying out, or agree to support a conclusion, you’ll need to first give them the SO WHAT.
Messages must be short, powerful and clear in order to be persuasive. And they have to mean something to your listeners. If you say something like ” I wanted to go over the budget with you today so let’s get started and I’ll leave time for questions at the end”…. that’s a factual statement about the agenda but it isn’t a message. If you instead say, “Our budget is right on track, but there are a few issues I want to bring to your attention and get your thoughts on” we’re getting a lot closer. Now if you say, “The good news is our budget is right on track. I did identify two areas we need to watch however, and I’m going to ask for your support for a simple fix to make sure we continue to stay on track”, you’ve got something. Now your audience knows exactly what they’re about to hear, how it involves them, and an idea of what you’re bringing to this process.
Think about this: When your audience leaves the room after listening to you, bumps into someone who says, ‘what was that about’? What does your audience member say? If your listener says “oh it was just a status update—you didn’t miss anything,” you as the speaker have missed an opportunity. Now if instead they say, we had some forecasting problems Jane caught but otherwise, looks like the budget is on track”, you’ve succeeded in messaging that’s going to enlighten your audience AND elevate your value in an organization.
This is especially true if you’re briefing someone else on a situation. The last thing that decision maker wants from you is a hit list of everything you understand and did on any given problem. What they want is ONLY that information that they NEED to know or act on and what your take is on the situation. Let that person dictate how much additional detail or supporting information they need.
Messages are a way of organizing any presentation or remarks you make, formal or informal. If you know the bottom line “so what”…your “takeaways”, you then can figure out what additional information you need to include for your audience to understand those points and to be convinced.
If anyone listening to you has to interrupt you and ask for the point, it’s an indication you haven’t worked out any messages or that your messages weren’t clear to the listener.
If anyone listening to you has to interrupt you and ask what you recommend be done about the point you’ve just made, you’ve also missed an opportunity. Any time you outline a problem in a message, you want to also include a reference to a solution or at least a strategy for finding one. If you have to be pushed into identifying one, you’ll get none of the credit for bringing the matter up in the first place.
For junior and mid-level executives, messaging is a way those listening to you can really see the value you’re bringing to the workplace. Strong clear messages don’t have anything to do with positions or titles. The success of messages isn’t dependent on whether people agree with you. They do however show others that you can “own” the moment and display leadership skills. They help convince those listening that there is real value in listening to you and that their time is never wasted if you’re leading the discussion. For senior level executives especially, messaging becomes the discipline you use to inspire and motivate others. Messages give you a chance to demonstrate what your values and priorities are in no uncertain terms. And there’s little else as powerful in convincing others that you’re a true leader than showing passion and conviction in relaying those messages..
For ALL of those speaking in front of others in professional settings, messaging is an essential tool to organizing any address. Never engage in any formal or even informal professional communication until you know who is listening, what your intent is, and what your messages are.
Alright, so now that we know the so what…the messages are a vital part of presenting with power, I’ll give you the one golden rule we use with all clients in powering up their communications. You have to believe them. That’s right, none of us listening are going to believe in the power of what you’re saying, if you don’t.. So DO make sure, in all business professional settings that when you present, or brief, or add your thoughts informally, that you’re communicating something you believe. Remember, this isn’t acting and for you to succeed in powerful communications, we have to also see and hear your authenticity.
Well that’s Presenting With Power for today. I’m Aileen Pincus of The Pincus Group. Please visit us at www.thepincusgroup.com to find out more ways to power up your communications and for ways to meet all of your coaching needs. Until next time.
Aileen Pincus launched The Pincus Group after more than two decades of communications experience, including as a local and national television reporter, a senior communications director a U.S. Senator, and as an executive trainer at a global public relations firm. She now leads training and strategy for the firm’s clients around the country, training senior executives for Fortune 500 companies, as well as for political and non-profit groups.
As President and founding partner of The Pincus Group, Aileen is a sought after speaker on effective communication for national organizations and forums having written a book for Penguin Press. She is a graduate of California State University at Northridge, School of Journalism and listed in Who’s Who as one of the nation’s most influential people.
Learn more at www.ThePincusGroup.com.
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