How do you Get to the Point?

ConfusionWhen you are communicating information to others how quickly do you get to the point? Do you hit them between the eyes with the bottom line or do you spend 5 minutes laying the groundwork for the decision?  Maybe you fall somewhere in between.  All are valid options and needed in different situations.  The next question is how does your audience respond?  Do they shy away from the blunt data or do their eyes glaze over at the details?  To get your point across you need to tailor your delivery to the audience’s style not yours.

To understand which style to use with your audience you need to have an understanding of their preference and their needs.  What do they need to get from the information and how do they like information presented to them.

Being direct is great when:

  • You have 30 seconds to update your boss before his meeting
  • The person you are sending information to likes bullet point highlights
  • It’s the team’s weekly update meeting where everyone reports status
  • People’s safety is a concern and time is of essence

Being more detailed is great when:

  • People need to understand the reason for a change
  • The person you are sending information to needs the backup as support
  • You are asked how you reached the decision
  • Getting buy-in to a decision is critical for success

When you are going to share information, in response to a question or as part of a routine report, take a minute to consider the needs and style of your audience.  They may want bullet point highlights with the details attached for future reference.  They may need to have all the details so they can answer questions from others.  It varies each time you communicate with someone.

Keep in mind that if you always default to your preferred style people may be missing your point.  If you love to give details, but the person you are talking to needs the three main points you’ve lost them before they get the points.  If you tell some on the top three points but don’t give them the details they need, they could see you as rude or uncooperative.  Either way your credibility and opinions of your ability to communicate has been damaged.

The point of communicating is to share information.  So it’s up to you to adapt to the situation to ensure your message is received.  Pay attention to people’s reaction to how you provide information, this will give insight into how well you are making your point.  At times you must be direct and other times you must be detailed.

photo from iStockPhoto.com

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Filed under Coaching, Leadership

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