Our communicating confidently series will take you through some of the key elements that send signals to others about your level of confidence, competence and credibility.
We all respond better to people who are comfortable in their own skin, who sound confident and can communicate effectively.
Whilst the things we say and the language we use are far less important than how we communicate and support that message with our body language and voice, we still need to make it count. This session will take you through how to structure your communication, using influential language and pitfalls to avoid.
Structuring your message
Clear, concise messages are more likely to be heard and acted upon than long, rambling or unclear ones so it’s useful to adopt a structure. Here are a few options
- POP – pose a Problem, outline the Options for solving it, present a Proposal with your recommendation
- STARR – outline the context or Situation, refer to a specific Task, explain the Actions that need to be/were taken, summarise the Results, make accompanying Recommendations
- 5 W’s – outline the Why, What, Who, When and Where of a problem, situation or solution.
Signposting is a technique that you can use in conjunction with the structure to help people follow the message. For instance if you’re using the 5W’s approach you can say “let’s first talk about why we need to change” After you have done that you can signpost again by saying ”So what are we going to do?” etc This helps people stay on track with your message and enhances it’s clarity.
Using influential language
It’s difficult to influence somebody else if the language you use is vague, uninteresting and lacking in focus. Instead, research shows we pay more attention to speakers who use:
- Definite language and present tense “this is the next big thing” as opposed to “this is going to be great”
- Rich vocabulary lots of adjectives that conjure images and describe the content eg. “This is the most inspiring, innovative and practical addition to our range yet” as opposed to “this is the best yet”
- Metaphors and analogies. People like to be able to relate to what you’re saying so use of metaphors and analogies to simplify and yet add depth to your message. Eg. “It’s a bit like trying to ride a bicycle wearing a blindfold” or “it was music to my ears”
- Anecdotes and examples. People love stories and practical examples as it brings information to life. Influential communicators are experts at telling stories and anecdotes to highlight points and convey information.
- WIIFM – don’t forget to share the benefits of proposals, recommendations and requests. Most people will instinctively ask WIIFM or ‘What’s in it for me?’ so make sure you include it.
- Minimal jargon. Some people think that using jargon and buzz words make you sound more informed or intelligent. In reality jargon can often turn others off especially if they are not party to the meaning of the jargon or abbreviation.
Common pitfalls to avoid
Unfortunately there are some common traps that many of us fall prey to that weaken our verbal communication. These include:
- Using weak words such as ‘just’, ‘only’ or ‘maybe’. Eradicate them or replace them with stronger language.
- Too many um’s and ah’s. This can make you sound less credible because people assume you don’t know what you’re talking about. Do your homework so you’re sure of what you want to say and try to pause in silence if you need to think about or consider a point.
- Using negative introductions. If you need to ask someone to do something unpleasant, mundane or tedious, many people will say something like “you’re probably not going to like this but please could you…” or “I know you hate this but would you…” All this does is create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, use a neutral or positive introduction to the task/situation.
If you want to convey confidence, competence and gain credibility be aware of the power of language and use it well.
In the next installment of the Communicating confidently series we will cover listening and provide tips on how to become a better listener.