Work better together: achieving clarity and purpose in your communication
In this post, certified coach Beverly Landais shares two techniques that can help organise your thoughts and connect you with people at a human level, leading to better quality conversations.
We are so busy navigating the technology of remote working, juggling schedules for office time and keeping on top of tasks that our communication sometimes misses the mark. It need not be this way. Here are two techniques that can help organise your thoughts and connect you with people at a human level, leading to better quality conversations.
It is tempting to dive straight into telling rather than showing someone what you wish to achieve. Preparation doesn't need to take an age but will make all the difference to the tone, flow of the content and effectiveness of your pitch.
If you are short on time, you might like to try using Mind Mapping to identify and group your ideas. A Mind Map is a handy way to brainstorm thoughts without being concerned about order and composition. It gives you the freedom to capture ideas quickly and efficiently. Then you can explore in more depth and expand your ideas without losing any points. Once you have reviewed the connections between the themes, you can edit to identify the most relevant, powerful and memorable aspects of the information you wish to convey.
Here is how to get started:
Begin by noting down the central topic or main idea in the centre of your page. You may use paper or try one of the many apps such as Coggle, which is excellent for beginners or Canva, which has a wide range of templates for personal or teamwork.
Once you've chosen your medium, use lines, arrows, speech bubbles, and different colours to show the connection between the central theme/main idea and your ideas that stem from that focus. The relationships are essential, as they will help you create a natural flow for the message you want to convey.
Write or draw rapidly without self-editing. You can express things with a doodle, a symbol, one or two keywords or a simple phrase. Avoid excessive wording as this clutters up the map. Instead, explore each concept letting one thought lead to another like branches and twigs on a tree. Let your ideas develop naturally. Consider every possibility, even those you may not use.
Pause and review what you have done so far. You might find new ideas pop up. Add these to the map. Your completed map will likely have main topic lines spreading in all directions from the middle, helping you spot the connections and critical themes.
The next step is to organise your map by grouping these themes in a series of headings. As you do this, think about the outcome you want from this communication. Review your work with this end in mind.
You can fill in the detail using the POSTER method, which helps hone what you communicate to others. The emphasis is on creating understanding and powerfully sharing your goal vision.
Here's how it works:
Use the headings and prompts below to develop critical points. You don't need to write perfect sentences as this isn't a script. Experiment with the approach. It can be helpful to run it by another person for feedback before you finalise.
P - Start with Purpose – set out the reason for the brief and the proposed activity. The aim is to answer the question 'What's the point?'
O - Next, set out the desired Outcomes – what are the hoped-for benefits gained by undertaking this activity. The O can also represent the Opportunity/Operational Issue/Organisational Implications. It all depends on the context.
S - Then focus on Specifics or Structure of the activity – what needs to happen to achieve a good result.
T - Now set out the Timing of the activity from commencement through to delivery.
E - Consider the Engagement needed to accomplish your goal. Identify who you need to get on board. What will energise, motivate and mobilise them? How can you engage their enthusiasm and interest?
R - Stands for any Resource implications and other impacts (such as financial or team management of other priorities).
It takes practice to learn how to implement these techniques; however, just like doing any physical or mental exercise, it becomes more natural and straightforward as you build muscle memory.
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