What characterizes helpful information that we can remember and use, and what becomes a jumbled mess? And how does understanding this help us when we are talking to prospective clients?
Don’t try to give more information than you need to. People forget detail so stick to the important points. If you are helping somebody to find a destination, any more than 3 key navigation points will start to become foggy. Too much detail about what they will see on their way to a navigation point is unhelpful (although always offered as additional ‘useful guidance’).
If you’re presenting to, or meeting, a potential client the more non-essential information you give them, the more likely they are to miss what matters. There’s a natural tendency to give clients as many reasons as possible to choose us, rather than focusing on the few key decisive reasons. Always focus on what they need to know rather than what you want to tell them.
Clear Communication Tip 2
Slow down. Somebody who stops for directions needs to get somewhere. We assume they are in a hurry and speak quickly, packing in as much useful information as we can. This doesn't always help. Similarly, a consequence of trying to tell your client too much may be that you just go too fast and leave them confused. If you have worked out the critical information that your client needs, you can afford to take your time. You should pause often and check that they have understood and appreciated what you are telling them.
Not everyone will tell you that they haven’t understood something. To go back to our driving analogy somebody may decide that the person giving the directions is incapable of doing so in a helpful way; do they ask them to clarify - or do they drive on hoping to find somebody who can tell them clearly what they need to know?
This point also relates to rapport and trust. If we trust the person giving us the information we are far more likely to listen attentively.
Clear Communication Tip 3
Repeat the key messages. If you were giving complicated directions you might well repeat the information and look for visual clues that the person you are speaking to has understood the key points. The same applies with clients: repeating your key messages is the best way of ensuring they have as many opportunities as possible to pick them up and remember them.
You can frame the points in slightly different language and use different examples to illustrate them so you won’t come across as repetitious and boring. Also, people have different interests and different ways of absorbing information, mixing up the way you deliver your messages allows as many people as possible to take them on board. If your key points relate to the critical issues that resonate with the client’s experience and challenges then they won’t find them uninteresting, even if you do repeat them. If they ave already taken in the key message then the repetition serves to emphasise the importance of it.
Clear Communication Tip 4
Have clear expectations. Every time you meet with a client you should be clear, not only about what you want to tell them, but what you want them to do as a result. Unfocused objectives lead to unfocused conversations and more of those ‘really good meetings’ that don’t actually result in any business. If you know what you want clients to do you can work out what you need to say to make that happen.
In business our destination is more clients and more contracts. Learning how to be more structured and disciplined in how we communicate can make a huge difference to how quickly we get there.
I help businesses win more contracts through presentation skills coaching and competitive dialogue coaching.
Call me on (01963) 240555 to see how I can help you. Visit our website www.thebidcoach.co.uk Or Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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