The usual banter and small talk may work for happy hour but not necessarily in the meeting room. I found that presenting information to colleagues in my usual casual manner was no longer being heard. Ten seconds in half of their attention was elsewhere, and they did not grasp the critical part of my message I was trying to convey. I said all the correct information; they were “listening,” but they did not hear me.
I began seeking out audiobooks on effective communication, changing your mindset, and leadership in the workplace. I was eager to soak in any insights as to why my message was not being heard. Here is the conclusion I have come to: Leave out the details. There is time to fill those in later once the team understands where you are going. No one will jump in the car with you and head down the highway unless they know where the destination is.
Productivity is the name of the game, and I have come up with three essential items to make my message heard.
TIMELINE + ACTION ITEMS + FOLLOW-UP
Timeline – When am I going to do something? My group now knows if this is something I am proposing for today, tomorrow or if it is a long-term plan item.
Action Item – What am I proposing? Is this an item for me, a group, the company?
Follow-Up – What steps am I proposing to happen and by whom.
By clearly stating these three objectives right up front, there are no wasting attention spans. You will also not have to catch those up that were only half paying attention to what you need from them. If you do not speak clearly and concisely, your message can get lost in words. Once you have clearly stated those three items and everyone understands what it is about, then you can go into more detail. It’s the same concept as to why you need a catchy headline for an article.
If your audience doesn’t hear something important in the first few seconds, you have lost them.
Equally important to clear communication following your initial presentation of the material is hearing THEM. My colleague told me that “you have to take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.” You won’t be able to concisely and effectively respond if you don’t listen to what they are asking.
And finally, make it positive. Your boss does not want to hear what you have not done. They need to know this information but present it in the above format. WHEN I am going to take care of WHAT, and this is HOW I am going to do it. They no longer need to ask you why it is not done or what you have planned. You have gotten ahead of that questioning, and they now have confidence in you handling it. TIMELINE + ACTION ITEMS + FOLLOW-UP