Situation 24: GETTING TO THE POINT

Betsy presents a new distribution proposal in the team meeting. She kicks off her presentation with providing a highly detailed overview to ensure everybody is on the same page. She notices that nobody listens.

(Click on the pictures to see them in full size)

A great leader:

  • Has confidence in her abilities, is self aware and knows how much value she adds to the organization;
  • Presents her ideas and proposals to her colleagues in an assured and assertive manner using ‘strong’ language;
  • Understands how organizations work and how she can get things done both through formal channels and the informal network;
  • Pitches herself to the situation;

How to best handle the situation:

Joseph McCormack thinks everything would be better if people could just get to the point. As the author of “Brief” and Founder of the Sheffield Company, a marketing firm that focuses on helping clients craft concise messages, he’s observed first hand how endless meetings, data dumps, and wordy e-mails are becoming the bane of business.

According to him “Brevity is not a nice to have, it’s a need to have”. He believes it’s just bad manners to go long, just like it’s rude to be late.

Here are McCormack pointers on the fine art of getting to the point:

  • Don’t over-explain: Everyone could use more preparation and self-editing. “Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are communicating with. Ask yourself: is there too much information they don’t need to know?”
  • Use the 5Ws: Keeping the who, what, where, when and why top of mind can convert even the most complex ideas into an intriguing story for an audience;
  • Replace words with images: You don’t need to be Picasso to use pictures to make a compelling point. Do a little research on representative images online. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just interesting and connected to the topic;
  • Hardness the power of the pause: They are a strong weapon for brevity because it shows discipline and doesn’t allow you to leak your nervousness and say things you didn’t intend. Feel uncomfortable with silence? McCormack suggests looking at it this way: “it gives the person a chance to process what you just said”.
  • Map your communication: Speak in headlines and use a mind map. Make a visual outline of your communication. Have the main point in the middle and concentric circles with a couple of other supporting facts around it. “People will thank you for it”.

For the full article see: Fastcompany: Mastering The Fine Art Of Getting To The Point by Lydia Dishman  (01-22-2014)

Learning Suggestions:

  • Learn to communicate persuasively, develop an assertive style backed with solid facts and examples, adjust your messages for different audiences. Take an assertive communications skills course to further build your self-confidence;
  • Develop a more businesslike vocabulary by reading books and articles targeted to business people
  • Keep your expertise fresh by reading articles and white papers by thought leaders, leading companies, research institutes and consultancy companies;
  • Enlist the help of a trusted colleague who can give you feedback on how you come across in meetings and what impact you have on the other attendees.  Take this feedback on board and try to improve your interactions in future;
  • Listen attentively to how others put their ideas across.  What language do they use?  What emotion do they convey; do they remain calm and composed?  Do they get angry?  Do they emphasize important points?  Analyse what techniques are effective in which scenarios and try to incorporate them into your own communication style;
  • Leaders are readers. In the Femshop we have a number of books which might be of interest to you, such as:
    • “Brief, making a bigger impact by saying less” by Joseph McCormack;
    • “Hardball for Women – Winning at the Game of Business” by Pat Heim and Susan Golant;
    • “Lean In – Women, Work and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg;
    • “Act like a Leader, Think like a Leader” by Hermina Ibarra.

Femchallenge:

How do you make meetings matter?

Femcommunity tips

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.

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