I’ve had some interesting conversations with colleagues and friends recently about a phenomenon all to common…that of over-sharing.
It’s so easy to do! We start talking about music therapy–or some other topic we’re passionate about–and end up sharing way too much and losing our listener. We give a presentation and try to cram way too much information in a slide…and in the talk itself. We go to meet a legislator or an administrator and come loaded with brochures, business cards, and informational sheets. Someone in an elevator asks what we do and we delve into a 5-minute monologue about the virtues of our profession.
But when does it get to be too much? When do we start losing the attention and focus of our audience? When do we start having so much information (quantity) that we start losing some of the depth and nuance of our topic (quality)?
Being a killer communicator is a bit of a balancing act. It’s not easy to have just enough information so that our audience understands our point, but not so much that it overwhelms the listener.
With that in mind, here are 7 tips that will help bring out the killer communicator in you:
- Be clear about your 1 main goal. For whatever meeting, presentation, or talk you’re planning, you should have one main goal and purpose for it. Think of it like a mission statement–what is your mission for this talk? What’s the one thing want your audience to get out of it?
- Have no more than 5 main points. In truth, 3 main points is probably enough, depending on the content of your presentation and your audience, of course. And odd numbers are good. For some reason, having 3, 5, or 7 points and tips is a lot easier to remember than having 4, 6, or 8.
- When possible, provide an example per point. What’s a great type of example? A story. People remember stories and they are beautiful and easy ways to help your audience both pay attention and remember what you say. Another great type of example? Music. If you’re a music therapist like me, our job is made easier because we can find ways to infuse song into our talks.
- Limit yourself to 3 handouts. Make them all different. Any more than that and you’re likely providing too much information. Make them all different (e.g. include business cards, flyers, information sheets, brochures, etc.) so they–and you–stand out.
- Don’t use staples or paper clips. They look messy, get caught on things, and the papers themselves can still easily be separated. Better to fit everything on a single page or format your material in a one-page, folded, booklet-type of format.
- State the action you want your listener to take. It’s doubtful that you only want your audience to sit, listen, and do nothing. What do you want them to DO with this new information? Sign up for a newsletter? Schedule the next meeting? Connect you with another person who can help? Whenever possible, be clear in your mind what action you want your audience to take. Then tell them.
- Remove all barriers. In these situations, it’s likely you’re more invested in the topic than your audience is. Therefore, remove all barriers to what you want your audience to do so they have no excuses and the job is easier for them. If you want them to sign up for a newsletter, provide them with the sign-up sheet to fill out during your talk. Want them to make a phone call and connect you with a person? Bring that person’s number. Do whatever you can ahead of time to facilitate the action you want.
Do you have more tips? Please let us know your ideas on what makes a killer communicator by leaving a comment in the field below!