No matter how meticulously you plan your words, you can never control how your message is received. However, several things are within your control, like timeliness, intensity and volume. Knowing what’s within your power and preparing in advance will help you to maximize each opportunity to communicate. Here are five keys to making your message count:
1. Never wing it.
Every conversation I’ve left with regrets shares a common denominator --- I didn’t think before I spoke. Most of us are at our best when we have ample time to process our thoughts before sharing them. If a conversation or meeting is worth your time to schedule, it’s worth taking a few minutes to develop an outline beforehand. For a particularly important dialogue, consider role-playing the conversation with a trusted colleague to remove the rough edges.
2. Think about it from the receiver’s perspective.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes when shaping your strategy. This ensures a balanced approach and will prepare you to not only support your position, but also to challenge any potential rebuttals.
3. Be prepared for different responses.
No one can predict with 100 percent certainty how everyone will respond. Increase your chances that a conversation goes well by anticipating negative or questioning replies. This lessens the likelihood that you’ll be caught off guard.
4. Approach with reason and logic.
A point that is introduced with logic and confidence is less likely to be met with hostility. The key is to approach each conversation with objective-minded reasoning supported by data or fact, if possible.
5. Don’t forget the emotional side.
While point number four stresses the need for objective conversation, it’s important to remember that emotions often trump logic. Don’t underestimate the influence emotions can play in the perception of a message --- and understand which ones your words may evoke.
Finally, strive to be not simply an effective communicator, but a brilliant one. Your point comes across clearer in a well-articulated conversation. While it may not be perfect -- at least right away -- aiming for brilliance is the best way to get there.