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Training Course Outlines
Assertive Communication Skills
Creating a great
How to Lose Your Audience Quickly
Today is the third Tuesday of the month. That means you have to attend the monthly presentation given by the head of your company. As you and your office mates head to the auditorium, you hear the usual good-natured ribbing and complaints about this monthly ritual. Some of the comments have to do with taking bets on how long the speech will be today. You hear others wagering on how many times the poor guy will say, "but seriously, now." What you don't hear is any kind of anticipation of news to come, status of the business, or any recognition of the worth of this communication tool. Step back for a minute. I bet you can figure out why.
The good news is that your CEO seems genuinely committed to communicating regularly with his staff. The bad news is that he just isn't doing so effectively. He loses his audience quickly, not just some times, but every time. He seems out of touch. He doesn't take questions, but just comes on stage and delivers a stilted oration, complete will illegible slides, month after month. His audio equipment often malfunctions. He does not relate his information to his audience at all. They actually have no idea how they are impacted by the information he's delivering. Worse, they have no idea how their work and their efforts impact the bottom line. And as well-meaning as this CEO may be, he always loses his audience within the first couple minutes of his presentation.
What's going on here? The CEO has great intentions, right? He communicates regularly, right? He is keeping his people informed, right? Wrong. He may have good intentions, and he may stand up in front of his people on a regular basis, but his message is lost, and his "intentions" may even become the topic of water-cooler jokes. Why is all this happening? Well, sometimes it helps to look at what's going wrong instead of what's going right to drive the point home. This is one of those times. If you want to lose your audience quickly and consistently, just follow these simple steps:
1. Relate information at the highest, most complex level. Ignore the knowledge level of your audience, and make sure the information presented is impressively detailed and obscure. Be sure to emphasize any tax law consequences to the corporation. Everyone should be aware of those, right?
2. Make sure your audience is impressed with your vocabulary. The more complex, impressive statements you can make, the better.
3. Don't take questions. You are far too important to answer questions directly.
4. Make sure your audience knows how you regard them. Call them "guys and gals," or "boys and girls." This will endear you to them.
5. Don't recognize any significant contributions of individuals or teams. This will only cause jealousy in the ranks.
6. Keep the length of the presentation variable from month to month. It's important that your people know you are in charge, and no conflicting priority either in their work lives or personal lives is more important than listening to you, no matter how long you choose to speak.
7. Be sure to avoid controversial topics in your presentations. Don't address any rumors of downsizing or customer loss. These people just need to concentrate on their own jobs. They don't need to be distracted by impending issues.
8. Do not practice your speech ahead of time. Better yet, don't even read it. Your time is too precious for this. You have a staff who has written the speech. Their job is to construct what you say, and your job is to say it.
9. Add some humour to your speech. Your cousin, Eddie, always told you what a funny guy you are. Make sure you tell a few great jokes to prove you are "one of the guys." Of course, it's best if the jokes you tell have to do with your business or your competitors. Just assign some of your staff to come up with these and bring them to you.
10. Be sure you make it clear that only those at the top of the organization have a role in the success of the business. After all, they are in charge, and they tell all the rest of the organization what to do, right?
I'm betting you get the idea at this point. You are absolutely off base if you believe that the work force itself is not critical in the success of your business. Any manager who is having regular communication meetings with his or her employees is to be applauded. However, those meetings can result in more harm than good if not handled correctly. Your role, as a management presenter, is to respect your audience. It is also to engage your audience, and it is to inform your audience. Why? Because those people hold the key to your success or failure. And if you don't believe that, you have already failed.