More than meets the eye
My daughter is studying media and we had a chat today about communication principles, particularly about working with large groups, e.g. presenting at meetings or conferences. On the face of it, I explained, it’s as simple as ABC: (a) having clear intention, (b) knowing your audience and (c) using effective media.
Having clear intention
What do you want your audience to leave thinking? Do you want them to have fresh information, knowledge, questions, understanding? If so, what is the focus? If you were to meet with each person present one week later, what are the three key things you hope they would remember from this meeting?
What do you want your audience to leave feeling? Do you want them to feel encouraged, inspired, confident, challenged? What do you want your audience to do as a result of this encounter? Do you have specific actions in mind? If so, is the audience clear what you want them to do – what, how and when?
Knowing your audience
This is tricky in large meetings, especially if open meetings. It’s about finding out as much as you can beforehand. Why are these people here? What are their core interests? What kind of language, metaphors and concepts do they tend to use? What would make this meeting worthwhile from their point of view?
It’s worth assuming a mix of theorists (who will want to know that what you’re saying is well founded), reflectors (who will want space and time to think it through), pragmatists (who will want to know there is some practical purpose to it) and activists (who will want to get on and do something).
Also a mix of thinkers (like to know the rationale), feelers (want to feel an emotional connection), big picture people (like to know overall vision and concepts), data people (want to know the key details), organised people (like structure) and emergent people (enjoy fluidity).
Using effective media
The choice of media falls out of intention and audience and what kind of facilities and equipment are available. Some people have a visual preference (engage with what they see) some auditory (engage with what they hear) and some kinaesthetic (engage by doing something practical).
Using a range of media, therefore, that involve seeing, hearing and doing can be most engaging for a large mixed group. This often demands creative thought and planning beforehand. ‘What could be the most creative and engaging way to do this?’ ‘How can we best use a diverse mix of media in the same meeting?’
It’s worth thinking about who to involve too. It would be one thing for a team to present on its own work, what it does. It would be another thing for a different team to present on what that team’s efforts have enabled them to do. It can help to involve a range of people, to hear different, unexpected voices.
Intention, audience and media are important. I’ve learned over time, however, that authenticity and trust are equally, if not more, important. Covey comments, ‘When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective’. When trust is low, even the most simple communications can feel strained.
I often encourage speakers to consider beforehand, ‘As you look out on this sea of faces, what do you really believe? Do you genuinely love these people? Do you believe they are worthy of trust and respect? Is what you want to communicate real and true? Are you really open to listen and invite challenge?’
These are the more subtle aspects of communication, the character and values dimensions that can easily be missed, lost or ignored whilst focusing on technical messages, methods and techniques. It's passionate conviction, quiet humility and determined integrity that often make the difference.
1/5/2012 07:24:25 am
Good read you help with good communication skills . Love to read more from you.
17/5/2012 02:25:49 pm
Hi and thanks for the encouraging feedback! With best wishes. Nick
16/9/2012 11:58:06 pm
A fantastic blog with a lot of useful information. I would love to get updates from you. Keep blogging. All the best.
30/10/2012 04:24:44 am
Hi blepharoplasty and thanks for your encouraging feedback. Unfortunately, the website software package I use doesn't have a facility to subscribe or sent out auto-updates. I hope you will visit future blogs and feel free to add your own thoughts and ideas too. With best wishes. Nick
20/9/2012 02:29:29 am
You’re certainly a great writer.Your post provided me with many helpful pieces of information.
30/10/2012 04:30:28 am
Many thanks eye doctor. I'm pleased you found the blog helpful. With best wishes. Nick
15/5/2012 02:04:02 am
Good post i wanted to know more about this topic we need to understand how this effect our body and how to deal with them.
30/10/2012 04:35:22 am
Hi and thanks for the feedback. Could you say more about 'effects on the body and how to deal with them'? Were you thinking of, for example, physical stress people can experience when leading presentations? With best wishes. Nick
30/8/2012 06:02:10 am
Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I'm impressed! Very helpful info specially the last phase I handle such info much. I used to be looking for this particular info for a long time. Thanks and best of luck.
30/10/2012 04:33:10 am
Many thanks for such encouraging feedback, eyewear. I'm very pleased you found the blog helpful. With best wishes. Nick
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