Good packaging improves communication

May 29 2008 by Janet Howd Print This Article

Google 'good communication,' and some 56 million responses are instantly available. At the top of the page, a sponsored link from Cisco reads: "Achieve Unimaginable Results By Connecting With Others Now."

Further down the page, another link states: "Communication is the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another... It is the chain of understanding that integrates the members of an organisation from top to bottom, bottom to top, and side to side."

All of the other sites I sampled emphasised making connections and allowing for a two way flow of information as essential elements of good communication. Yet all too often the first thought that comes to mind when people are asked to give a presentation is: "Oh, no - What shall I wear?"

I'm not denying that appearance is important - because if we don't feel comfortable we cannot feel confident. But audiences are looking to buy into ideas not wardrobes and unless presenters plan how best to fit their product to their customers they won't sell anything even if they wear their birthday suit!

'Delivering,' and 'giving' are the words most commonly used to describe the act of presentation which presupposes that someone will be 'accepting' and 'receiving.'

So, the first concern of any presenter must be to find a way for as many members of an audience as possible to get hold of the package of ideas with ease and discover what's inside.

When we speak in public we have to take our ideas by the scruff of the neck (which is, after all, the area from which voice originates) and plonk them down in front of our listeners. Should they then choose not to pick up the package, that's their decision.

But if they are prevented from reaching it because the voice of the presenter lacks sufficient thrust to place it easily within their grasp, the responsibility for failure rests solely with the communicator.

A presentation prepared as a monologue all too often becomes monotone and monotonous and ends with the sound of one hand clapping. The solitary presenter leaves feeling rejected and everyone else is left feeling dejected.

The same amount of effort put into preparing a presentation containing an element of dialogue, however - even if it ends with a diatribe - means that all concerned leave energized by the event.

Good communication requires us to learn a vast repertoire of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills: listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing, evaluating and all the while processing what's going on so that when we are in front of an audience we can intuit what behaviour and language will best allow connections to occur.

To impress specific points on others presenters need multi-faceted styles of delivery, an ever growing vocabulary and sets of facial expression so that they can deliver messages with compelling directness to audiences from as many different cultures as possible.

With those skills at our beck and call each presentation can be as much fun to prepare and unwrap as a game of pass the parcel for no matter how serious the subject of a presentation, listeners will connect with its ideas and retain them more easily if an element of fun is added to the mix.

Set up the gift pack with sufficient clues and small snippets of information scattered amongst its wrapping to keep everyone interested until the main idea is disclosed.

As the fun and intrigue progresses, make sure that all the largest shreds get sifted through a second time so that when the game is over no unsolved riddles or unclaimed items of interest remain, and no player can legitimately claim to have been left out.


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About The Author

Janet Howd
Janet Howd

Janet Howd is a voice coach who works with corporate, academic, legal, theatrical and private clients in the UK, North America, Australia and Europe.