You are responsible for ensuring your idea is clear and communicated accurately.
The next edition of Beyond English Fluency is here.
If you are new, Beyond English Fluency dives into topics and shares strategies around communication that go beyond language.
Every other Wednesday (twice per month), I share a theme related to communication that goes in depth about one theme, strategy or idea. Whether you are a non-native English speaking professional or consider yourself a native looking to excel in your communication- you’ll find a strategy that you can apply to your own situation.
Today I am sharing with you communication strategies to use when explaining your ideas.
Have you ever found that when you share an idea, which sounds so good in your head, that you don’t get the reaction you were expecting. You just keep trying to find the words and expressions and the words spin around in what feels like an endless cycle. Meanwhile, your listeners faces’ are getting even more confused and you can see their minds drifting away.
I’ve learned that sharing your message doesn’t always translate to what you are meaning. This can cause some serious confusion or frustration. We are often surprised that, somehow our listener didn’t hear what we thought we’d said. It can be frustrating.
Effective communication is when you take responsibility for what you say and for how you are being heard.
These are the steps that I use when I am explaining any idea.
Organise your thoughts
What am I trying to say again?
It may take just a couple of seconds but this strategy has saved me a lot of times. I check in with myself, breathe and consider what I am trying to communicate.
We can organise our thoughts by breaking the key points we want to make into smaller parts. I find it especially important to do this when the idea I am explaining is very important or complex.
State and Elaborate
If you are communicating with English speakers and global teams, I find it helps to start by stating the main idea and then elaborating.
Something I like to challenge myself with is when I am sharing any idea is to summarise it in one sentence. You can do this at the beginning as well as at the end when you are delivering a speech, a workshop or a presentation.
I like to be able to come up with one sentence while I am preparing for the talk that can help my listener (and myself) understand what I am stating and my intention.
I always ask myself, even if they have a short time to listen and understand my idea, what is the most important information that I want to leave with them?
Depending on the language you speak, you may have been taught to elaborate and then state the main idea at the end.
In English we tend to present the main idea first and then support it with information to back the idea.
‘But wait… didn’t you just say that we need to do this, not that?…’
Oh no! If you have ever heard a statement like this, it could be because you aren’t being consistent in sharing your idea. You might start back-tracking and going back over what you were saying. It can become very confusing for your listener, and frankly, unprofessional.
If you are sharing your ideas with colleagues and stakeholders, they can be quick to identify an inconsistent message.
We are able to share consistent messages by focusing on the core message you want to share and from following these steps – especially organising your thoughts and what your message is before saying a word.
Staying true to a core message might feel like you are repeating yourself, but it is a good way to create trust and help others follow your ideas better.
Recognise and Ask
How can you be sure if someone understands you?
Verbal and non-verbal responses can help us recognise if they listener is understanding what we need to say or if we need to adjust the language we are using or find another way to explain our idea.
When you are sharing an idea over a phone call, and you are unable to see the speaker… it can be quite difficult to recognise their reaction.
It might be that they are making sounds like ‘mmhmm..’ or ‘yeah yeah… sounds good’ but they aren’t understanding your idea at all.
It can become pretty clear when someone responds to you if they can understand you well or not but we can’t always assume.
This is why it’s paramount to ask for their interpretation. We can’t assume that they are understanding our idea.
Our ideas and messages get misinterpreted all the time but I have found these tips to help me when sharing any idea.
If you aren’t sure if they have understood, don’t be afraid to ask for their feedback and interpretation of the message.
What do you think?
Do you agree that it is your responsibility to ensure your idea is communicated clearly and accurately?
Let me know in the comments below ??
If you would like to build your communication confidence and foundations in English but are not really sure how or where to start then check out my free guide to build your confidence today.
Listen to The Design of Communication Podcast – new episodes every Thursday about how you can become a confident communicator, articulate yourself clearly, and make more impact in the workplace as a design, tech or creative professional.
Do you have any additional questions? Feel free to reach out and send me a message. I’m happy to help.