For those of you who were frustrated by the recent Padre’s Ponderings on listening, I have to admit that the speaker does have some responsibility in this process as well. In fact while considering how to do a risk assessment on communicating I decided it was often high risk! However, with some careful preparation you can make it easier for people to listen AND lower the risk of them getting the message wrong! So before you open your mouth ask yourself, Am I…
Clear? You need to know what you are trying to say before you start. When in doubt, try to write down your message in one clear sentence. If you can’t you need to work on it more before you say it.
Concise? Most people have short attention spans, so you need to keep it as short as you can. If you expect the listener to remember the message, keep it less than 3 items or points.
Considerate? Show some respect and courtesy for your audience and make sure that you are speaking loud enough and clear enough for that venue. If you mumble you can’t blame them for not hearing!
Consistent? Make sure that you believe what you are saying, because if your body language is sending the opposite message, people will recognise the inconsistency and reject the message. Sending conflicting statements will also turn people off.
Comfortable? If you are perceived as nervous and uptight that will affect the message. Therefore practice your presentation (in front of a mirror or video it) and get confident about yourself and the message you are delivering.
Credible? Get your facts straight, and be wary of assuming that what you have been told is fact and not just hearsay. It is not their integrity that is at stake but yours, so take the time and make the effort to disclose your sources.
Complete? Only giving part of the story that may suit your conclusion is dishonest, so give the whole picture. If you only have a partial knowledge, admit it but remember a half baked cake usually turns people off.
Creative? Spend some time considering the best way to deliver this information. Good tools can easily be overworked and lose their effectiveness. So if everybody else is doing a power point presentation, refuse to get sucked in and do something innovative!
The fact is, you can be a more effective communicator, minimise the risks, make it easier for people to listen and hopefully, help them hear what you are saying. Yes, there are still risks but by careful preparation and asking yourself the right questions you can manage that risk. The good book summarises it like this:
“Careful words make for a careful life;
Careless talk may ruin everything.”
(Proverbs:13:3 The Message)
Chaplain Ian S Whitley