Are You Talking to Me?

To everyone with an occasion to speak to an audience of one to one thousand, the following considerations might improve information retention.

In that classic movie, Rush Hour 2, Chris Tucker asks a question of Jackie Chan we should all ponder from a different perspective. Chris said, “do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?” So the question to us should be, “do you understand the words that are coming out of YOUR mouth?”

Methods of communication are endless. However, because your attention span and my wisdom are limited, I will focus primarily on four fundamentals, as most seem to flow from these.

  • Straight Ahead
  • Journalistic
  • Lifestyle
  • Humor

Before preparation, ponder the style that will likely, resonate your message with your audience. Taking note of content, relevance, attendees with generational differences, demographics, and mission.

Straight ahead…say it!

First comes data that falls into the Dragnet approach, or straight-ahead method. For those of you too young to remember the amazing Jack Webb and the 1950s TV series, he was a “just the facts” kind of cop. Though he was never much on developing relationships, he could solve any case with simple basic information. This style is best utilized when numbers are relevant but not earth-shattering.

“There are an estimated 45,000 residents in the target demographic with a noted 3 percent growth rate per year.”

Relevant data is best left to handouts or displayed on-screen as its relevance will be noted as you move forward.

Journalistic….report it!

When the facts meet elaboration requirements, we enter the Journalistic method. This content is delivered factually with more background to provide clarity as to their necessity. Unlike today’s journalists, this information should be factual with a bit of slant on its meaning.

“Of the 45,000 noted, it is recommended we remember that 24 percent are new residents who have limited familiarity with our brand.”

Our audience must be aware that numbers are often slanted but not over-colorized to increase or decrease relevance.

Lifestyle…live it!

Now, we have arrived where communication meets relevance—lifestyle. This is where your previous work begins to reap dividends. This is where you make eye contact and connect in ways that matter. What do the numbers mean to you? How are they important to your family? Your standard of living? Why should you even care?

“While thinking of those 45,000 we mentioned earlier, remember you were once one of those. Before, you found the value in the brand that is equally concerned in community relations as well as product movement.”

It is imperative before you journey down this path that you make sure the claims made are substantiated. Fool me once; it’s on you; fool me twice, it’s on me. So few get a second chance.

This methodology is where the heart of your presentation should live. This is where your logic meets a need—where you show me not what’s in it for you but what’s in it for us.

Humor…laugh about it.

Finally, and to be used only when practical, let’s talk about the humor method! We all love to laugh, and some even purport that laughing promotes health. But, please note, most humor is at someone or something’s expense. What you mean for chuckles could result in listeners mentally exiting. So, again, I reiterate: “When in doubt, leave it out.”

Great presentations, conversations, or gatherings will often contain elements from all of the above. The challenge for you is communicating the relevant information in an informative, entertaining, educational, and impactful way, all while sounding real.

Easy, right? IT can be, as long as you focus on the fundamentals, and remember above all, IT matters!

To sum it up, before you speak, THINK!

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