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“I want to influence my stakeholders”
“I want to create more impact when I speak”
“I want to get stakeholder buy-in”
“I want to inspire my team members”
These are typical things I hear from some of my clients, when they talk about their communication goals
Be it in a meeting, town hall or a 1-1 conversation
When you speak, you want people to listen to you
You want to grab their attention, right ?
But in many cases, that does not really happen
You spend a great amount of time preparing your presentation or your speaking points
But when you actually speak, you realise that your audience was not really interested
They were not impressed by your presentation
They did not feel connected
While how you communicate - the language, the tone etc play an important role
There is another big reason why you are not able to hold their attention
A key reason why people are not intently listening to you
You know what it is ?
You make the communication about you, not them
You have your agenda on your mind, not theirs
That’s the biggest problem I have seen in my experience as a coach and a facilitator
The fact is that everyone cares for themselves
No one really cares what you are saying
..No matter who you are
..No matter what the setting or context is
Ultimately, people care about themselves
What’s in it for me ( WIIFM ) - that's what they are looking for
That’s the brutal truth !
Most people believe that they should have something interesting to say to grab people’s attention
But what you really need is something of interest to your audience
See the difference ?
..That’s when the will sit up and listen to you
..Pay attention to what you are telling
Now this is easier said than done, because we are heavily driven by our own personal agenda
You forget about who is in front of you - in fact, on many occasions, you don't even think about it
You spend enormous time preparing your content
But it is mostly about what YOU want to tell, what’s on YOUR mind
Not what they want to hear
Now you might have a question – “How do I know what my audience wants?”
Well, that goes to the basic 1.0 of communication – knowing your audience
..What are their likes and dislikes ?
..What are their dreams and desires ?
..What are their fears and frustrations ?
..What is important to them and what is not ?
This may seem overly simplistic and something you would think that you know of already, but believe me, most people do not know their audience well enough to personalise their communication
Knowing your audience means investing some time to research and observe, so that you can tailor your message to suit their needs
One thing important to note is that this does NOT mean that you let go of your agenda completely
All it means is that you communicate through their lens - in a language they might be interested in, in a context they can relate to
You essentially answer the questions :
What’s in it for them ?
Why should they listen to you ?
Let me give a simple example :
Let’s say you have to give a monthly presentation on key achievements of your team
Your audience includes the CFO and the CHRO
You would normally prepare a detailed presentation of all the good work your team has done in the month
But now you have to tailor the message for both the CFO and CHRO
What would the CFO potentially care about ?
Maybe things like how you have reduced the costs or areas where you have exceeded the budget etc
Similarly, what would the CHRO care about ?
Maybe things like attrition rates in your team, any new people initiative you are working on etc
So now in your presentation, if you can address these points ( even if they are not part of the agenda ), then there are high chances you will have their attention
On the other hand, if you simply give a list of things your team has been working on, without touching anything of relevance to the CFO or CHRO, you will find that while they were physically present in the meeting, they might have not have paid full attention
It’s a simple example, but you get the point, right ?
And don’t forget that this applies both in 1-1 and group setting
So next time when you are communicating and you want people to really listen to you
Spend time in knowing your audience well
And keep them as the centre of the conversation
Effective communication is NOT about you
It is about your audience
Make them the hero of your story !
So here's your weekly reflection on this topic :
1) What is your biggest challenge when it comes to communicating effectively ?
2) How is it impacting you ? For how long ?
3) If you were able to create more impact while you communicate, what would it mean to you ?