Recently I’ve been working with a lot of people who have to make presentations to small or large groups. I noticed they use a lot of sentences and don’t pause to ascertain how their message is landing with their audience.
In a meeting I observed Julie speaking for over 5 minutes who then looked up and said, “I don’t know what you think, but . . .”. Later she asked a global question of the group saying, “What do you think?” expecting someone to respond. The group went quiet and then one person (who often dominated the group) added their piece.
When Julie doesn’t get a targeted response, she is missing out on vital clues and she doesn’t know how her message has landed.
It would be much better for Julie to say “In a minute I’m going to ask a few of you to respond to what I’ve just said – Jim, Jane, George … What are you thinking about my ideas?”
So, how do you make sure every message is received as you intend?
Firstly, use metacommunication to ensure you listeners are ready to receive your communication, eg if you are addressing a behavioral problem with Larsen, you should say “I’m going to let you know what I have noticed and then I want your perspective, before we discuss solutions.”. Larsen will then know what to expect and his brain will become tuned in.
Secondly, avoid talking on a soap box where you act as if you don’t care how your listener is responding to you.
Every 7 to 10 sentences, pause and ask for a response from someone in your audience or ask several people what they are thinking. If you are speaking to someone 1-to-1, you could ask one of the following:
“What is your take on what I’m saying?”
“What is your response?”
“What do you make of what I’ve just said?”
If you do this, you will know exactly how your message has landed.
I was always taught by my teacher, Dr Max Clayton, “Rule #1 of human communication is to ask for a response to what you are saying”.