Getting your message across
A wealth of knowledge means nothing if you can't convey your message. Stephanie Roberson Barnard and Deborah St. James, authors of Listen. Write. Present: The Elements for Communicating Science and Technology, suggest the following tips:
1. Research: Take time to get to know your clients, colleagues and co-workers. Establish rapport and cultivate a collaborative relationship by finding out about others' interests (check out the pictures in their offices or Facebook for clues). If you've never been to their offices, check out their website or Google them. But always keep your personal conversations light and professional.
2. Pay attention: Smile, nod and acknowledge the speaker—and mean it! Really focus on what the person is saying and not only on the words. It's better to spend a few minutes concentrating on someone's message during a conversation than wasting time trying to remember what he or she said because you were trying to do something else.
3. Seamless presentations: Practise. Practise. Practise. Of all the tips we offer, practising is perhaps the most important. People in our audiences claim that too much practising makes a talk appear staged. But we've found that the "stiff" presenters are the ones who haven't rehearsed. They're so busy trying to remember what they're going to say, they can't tune into the audience or deviate from their slides. In contrast, speakers who have mastered their content seem to glide about the room, exuding just the right amount of enthusiasm.
4. Efficient meetings: The biggest complaint people have about meetings is that they last too long. Presenting your ideas in a simple, concise fashion will give you the advantage of appearing focused and prepared. Remember, never compromise content for simplicity.
5. Service with a smile: Be kind to others. It costs nothing and requires no skill. Your kind words, good deed or thoughtful gift may even cause a domino effect. A recent study from the University of California San Diego and Harvard University suggests that cooperative behaviour spreads among people and can have a positive ripple effect on your corporate culture.