Communicating Ideas Effectively

Probably no other single factor is more important in group dynamics and leadership development than communication. Being able to communicate your ideas effectively is both a learned and practiced skill any presenter, trainer, or public speaker needs to know in order to have their message understood and accepted by their listening audience.

Most of us think of communicating as a one way process.  We get all involved in what we’re saying, how we’re saying it, and what choices we should make to communicate better that we sometimes forget to remember there are some “tips” available to make our communication process easier.

Communicating Ideas EffectivelyListed below are some tips for communicating ideas more effectively the next time you have to communicate an idea to someone:

1.  PRESENT SINGLE IDEAS- A single idea or a series of thoughts presented in a logical sequence is much easier for an audience to understand and follow.

2.  GET PEOPLE TO “BUY OFF” ON ONE IDEA BEFORE PRESENTING ANOTHER- Presenting, explaining, teaching, or selling something has a logical sequence.  Remember information giving must follow the laws of logic built into the human brain.  People need time to absorb and digest your ideas before moving ahead with another idea.  If you practice a “random scatter” sequence of presenting your ideas, you will lose your audience.

3.  BE SPECIFIC- People need to know what to expect in order to get involved and interested in what you have to say.  Telling them your idea in great detail (if the situation or presentation warrants great amounts of detailed information being shared) helps them understand.  Tell them the whole idea first so whatever specific information that follows can be related back to the whole idea.

4.  RESPONDING TO EMOTIONS- Be aware of the different emotions present during the presentation of your ideas.  There are emotions of the presenter, the audience, and the issues surrounding any idea which suggests change from the status quo.

5.  SHARE YOURSELF- You have been asked by someone who wants you to share an idea because you have something important to say.  The best style is the one which is most natural and comfortable for you.  Only you can say it in your own style.  Be yourself and let your unique personality come through.  Do not try to imitate or act like someone else.  The audience is interested in you and your ideas.

6.  KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY- If the order of your presentation is clearly explained and easy to follow, then the listeners will absorb and understand your ideas better.  If your ideas are not explained well or easy to follow, then the listeners will be spending their time figuring out where you’re going, what you’re doing, how all of the pieces fit together, and when will it all end.  People have a VERY short attention span.  Use their time wisely.  Know what you want to say.

7.  USE A LANGUAGE COMMON TO YOUR AUDIENCE- So much of what we want to say is determined not by what we say but by how we say it.  Language differs from region to region, city to city, nation to nation, and from professional group to professional group.  It is important to remember how the use of words, phrases, or the semantics of words can be different.  Ideas that are most effectively conveyed to an audience are the ones that match up the culture of the meeting, the use of appropriate language, and the avoidance of acroyms.

8.  INVOLVE YOUR AUDIENCE- New ideas are usually met with some degree of skepticism and resistance.  One technique which is very effective in overcoming these problems is to actively involve your audience.  Merely talking to your audience does not always help them identify or empathize with a new idea.  Many times an audience needs to experience or feel a simulation of your idea (where practical) before full adoption of your idea will become a reality.

9.  GET FEEDBACK- As new ideas incubate, are developed, and tested for their merit, worth and/or application, it is important to get the opinion of others.  Others may have thought of a similar idea at one time but never expressed it openly to anyone else because they thought it was a dumb or stupid idea themselves or they feared ridicule.

10.  BE A GOOD LISTENER- In presenting new ideas we usually start out trying to listen; however, interruptions seem to detract from our focus.  Being a good listener means “staying open” to any and all comments about our idea.  Avoid the “shut down” tendency just because someone else has altered, changed, or improved upon your own idea.  Listening is an active pursuit!

How we communicate our ideas to the world is critical.  Mankind has been doing it since the beginning.  What has changed drastically from prehistoric times until now is the manner and the medium in which those ideas are conveyed.  Today, we have television, CD-ROM, satellites, and advancing technologies which are so new that they are changing the rules by which ideas are not only created, but also shared with others.

The challenge we all face is to communicate our ideas in the most effective manner so others will listen.

Joseph P. Herrity

Preferred Visions
“Consulting Solutions for Organizations”