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My pre-Christmas gift: a year’s worth of communication tips

Posted by St. James, Halina at Monday, 12/17/2012 3:17 pm
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Here’s a little pre-Christmas gift basket for everyone who values clear, effective communication. The basket contains 11 communications tips for people who need to express themselves powerfully and memorably in speeches, presentations or the written word.

The tips are the result of a collaboration between Halina St James, of Podium Coaching, writing coach Patricia Davies and social media expert Julian Sammy. The three take part in a monthly communications panel for the International Institute of Business Analysis.

For their December webinar they put their heads together and came up with a favourite tip from each of the preceding 11 months.

Don’t get stuck in a rut (January)

Halina’s January tip (and her resolution for 2012) came from an quote: ‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’re going to get what you’ve always got’. So embrace change. Try something different. If you have a good idea – put it to the test.

Emotions motivate (February)

Julian’s message for February was simple: emotions motivate, data doesn’t. It’s another way of expressing a message we like to share in Podium Coaching presentation skills workshops and media training sessions: facts tell, but stories sell. If you believe in what you’re saying and show it, your audience will believe too.

Help your readers (March)

In March, writing coaching Patricia Davies urged people to help readers digest documents. Have a logical structure to reports and proposals; categorize the information with sub-headings; build in some ‘white space’ in your writing so information is easier to read.

Get off to a good start (April)

In a presentation or speech, you absolutely need to start with a good hook. It engages the audience, establishes you as an expert and makes your presentation memorable.

All writing needs re-writing (May)

Patricia pointed out that everyone needs an editor when they write. And don’t take what an editor does personally. They bring clarity to your documents. There’s a lot of truth in the old saying that amateurs write, but professionals re-write.

Be authentic (June)

Be yourself when you speak. Be a good representation of yourself, rather than a pale imitation of someone else. Find your own voice and be comfortable with it. People will know when you’re faking it, and will not engage with your speech or presentation.

Keep it simple (July)

The simpler you are, the more powerful you are. Simple is not simplistic. It’s making complexity clear. Einstein famously said ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough’.

Be empathetic (August)

It’s not all about you. Put yourself in the shoes of your listeners or readers. See things from their perspective. Then you will know how to reach them. What does you audience want (and need) to hear from you?

Practice, practice, practice (September)

Amateurs wing it. Professionals rehearse. If you’ve constructed a great speech or presentation, it deserves to be well-rehearsed. Going live in front of an audience is not the time to be discovering the slides are in the wrong order or you’ve written words you can’t wrap your tongue around.

Be gentle with humour (October)

Avoid sarcasm and puns in business writing. When you speak, poke fun at yourself, not others. As we said in the December Podium Coaching newsletter, get a second opinion on your humour before you use it on an audience. Make sure other people think your jokes are as funny (and relevant) and you do.

Go for quality rather than quantity (November)

The more words you use, the greater the chance your message will get lost – whether you’re writing or speaking. Don’t try to make too many points in a speech, presentation or media interview. You audiences will thank you.

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