You know the feeling. At work, you have a brilliant idea to work smarter, to be more productive, to have more fun, or to make things better in another way. At a department meeting, you muster the courage and enthusiastically present your idea. Unfortunately, no one shares your optimism. Your colleagues look away or nervously straighten their clothes. When you are finished with your presentation, there is silence. Then the meeting continues with some administrative matter.
“Where a brilliant idea and technology blend together and if a massive number of people join there everything is possible.” ― Lord Robin
You know the feeling. At home, you share your brilliant idea about a special place to spend your next holidays. You describe the perfect weather, clean beaches, tidy hotel, and an excellent rate. You mention that your colleague who spent her holidays there, recommends the place. When you stop talking there is silence. Your kids continue looking at their iPhones, and your partner starts complaining about their day.
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Why is it that people do not listen or listen poorly? Why is it that they do not share your enthusiasm- and agree with your brilliant ideas?
After navigating sticky business situations in all types of organizations, I saw that whenever someone shares an idea effectively, that idea gets heard — even the bad ones. When people hear ideas, they are processed. When ideas are processed, people act to implement them.
The most important thing in effective communication is not what you say; it is what your audience hears or wants to hear. That is where things go wrong. There are always four disruptions in play as your audience is not:
- expecting your message
- prepared to listen to what you have to say
- used to hear you speak in this way
- free of preoccupation with their own problems
So, your message or idea falls on baron soil or drowns in the tide.
Fail. Fail Again. Fail Harder
What can you do to correct these brilliant failures in communication? How can you deliver your message more effectively?
I think there are six questions about your audience that can help:
- Who are they?
- Is this the right time to address them?
- What do they want?
- What do they need?
- How are they usually spoken to?
- What do you need to do to really reach them?
It is best if you make the grounds where your message lands fertile. Moreover, take your audience seriously and yourself lightly.
Who Is Listening to Me?
It is the million-dollar question. So, take an interest in your audience. Learn from them, get to know them. Furthermore, commit to understanding your audience. Listen to learn.
“I learned it the hard way. Moreover, I am still learning. To respect, to fail and to prevail. There is no end to learning, but there certainly was a beginning for me! Great lessons learned!” — Kees van der Ent
Often A Brilliant Idea Is Never Get Heard
An excellent way to solve this problem is by becoming a better communicator. However, most people think they need to learn how to craft a better message or discover how to say things a certain way. Unfortunately, that is only half the battle. The secrets the world's excellent communicators use are more profound.
Here are some of those secrets to help you become a better communicator:
Interestingly, people listen to you if you show you have listened to them. So, build your audience into your remarks. One-way speakers often do this is to begin their thoughts with, “As Alice said,” or “To recap, John . . .” While this introduction brings the audience in, unfortunately, you sound like you are riding on the coattails of someone else.
A better way to show you have listened to your audience is to build beyond what they have said. So, when you introduce an idea, you might say, “I liked what Sally said about moving fast with this project, and I have a plan for doing just that.” Alternatively, you may say, “I spoke to you individually as part of my research, and I have incorporated your suggestions into this masterplan.” You are giving credit to your audience, but you are also leading the charge.
Ask More Questions and Find the Hidden Meaning
I find that the most effective form of communication is to ask questions. Your ability to ask great questions and listen carefully to the responses is a significant step to you becoming a better communicator.
Rather than taking things for face value, look for what is not being said. It would be best if you looked for the meaning behind the meaning. When you think you know the meaning, question that assumption. Ask more questions. Get clarification and stay curious, stay engaged.
It is best if you find a reason that links you to the other person or group. Do not fake it. It would help if you asked enough questions until you find a reason to keep talking.
Do not Fake Interest
Be Interested in others. Ask better questions. Be genuinely curious. When you are more curious, the better your communication becomes.
Frequently, we communicate to influence or persuade; this is only half of it. Authentic communication involves you being willing to look at another's point of view. When someone feels you are on their side, your interests suddenly become theirs. You are on the same side of the table solving a shared problem.
Given that we are all humans, we have feelings. We are striving for acceptance and success. So, be respectful of everyone. It is essential to show that you are honest in your intentions. Respect creates respect.
Have A Clear Message
If you have one key message regarding a brilliant idea that your audience can relate to, it is they will listen, to you. To make sure they hear it, frame it with words like,
- “My point is . . .”
- “My main message is . . .”
- “I believe that . . .”
- “Here’s the thing . . .”
You will want to say your message near the beginning of your remarks and come back to it as you conclude. You can wrap up with a message that suggests your audience have “bought in.” An excellent close is, “So I’m confident that we have an excellent strategy for building our client base.”
Actions speak louder than words. Communication is as much action as anything else. Act your truth. Do what you say you will.
Listen to Learn
It is best if you stop thinking about what you want to say. If you need a pause before responding it is ok, let it happen. Moreover, make sure you are truly listening when others are talking.
Listening Is Arduous Work
There are many distractions in our lives. Moreover, if you adopt these techniques, your listeners will hear you with their ears and truly listen with their minds and hearts.
By slowing your pace, you can help your audience listen. When we speak extemporaneously, often we accelerate our pace. So, we are talking faster than our audience can think, and even quicker than we can collect our thoughts as we progress.
So, slow your pace to speak in a more leisurely fashion, giving weight to each thought and emphasizing keywords. For example, when you are talking about a new HR paternity policy, emphasize thematic words like paternity benefits. Also, highlight words that show your conviction (I believe; I know; I am confident).
Another way to slow down is to pause between your ideas intentionally. So, when thoughts are delivered the audience hears the words. However, it is during the pause after the sentence that they absorb what you said. When you pause after each thought (and before the next one), you give your audience time to listen to each of your ideas.
No One-Way Streets
Save the monologue for Shakespeare. The best communicators start a dialogue by listening and inviting others to share thoughts and feelings.
Sincerity Shines Through
We all can spot a fake, eventually. Never let that be you!
Use body language
The way we use our eyes, face, gestures, and bodies can shape the degree to which people listen to a brilliant idea.
For starters, look people directly in the eye when you are talking to them. Even if you are speaking to a team of twelve, it is best if you make eye contact with each person. When you look at an individual, the audience feels your gaze and connects with what you are saying.
It is best if you show in your face that what you are saying matters. Your animated face is a physical cue that what you are saying is essential. However, it makes your voice more animated. These actions help people to stay tuned.
You should hold your head high and stand (or sit) tall. This posture shows that you have confidence in what you are saying. Your presence draws your audience in and encourages them to listen.
Finally, it is best if you use open gestures to engage your audience, and underscore critical points. Keep your arms open (vs. folded) to show that you are comfortable (not closed or defensive) about what you are saying, even when you are not making gestures.
Body language communicates to your audience that you are involved and interested in what you are saying. They will be encouraged to be similarly engaged with you.
"You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, your ideas won't get you anywhere." — Lee Iacocca
When your head is full of ideas to share it helps to know that you are not the centre of the world!
- The bad news: An audience only remembers about one-fifth of what they hear.
- The good news: You can change that.
So, when you adhere to these secrets of communicating your brilliant idea will be heard. It is best if those around you pull ideas from you as they want and value your opinion.
The more you communicate with care, concern, and interest the more your audiences will trust you. Moreover, the more you are trusted, the more likely your ideas will be taken seriously.
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