Tuesday, April 23, 2013

IT Pros Who Speak Up Move Up

One of the best ways to stand out in an organization is to become proficient in the language of
public speaking. If you can communicate complex ideas in a series of concise examples, spoken in plain language and with a persuasive delivery, you will see your star start to rise within your team.

The goal is to persuade, not just inform
. There are things that IT professionals do that don’t always translate well to an audience. One characteristic of a technical, analytical mind is to start at the very beginning of a problem and test each step sequentially to the conclusion. That’s fine if you’re writing a set of instructions to carry out a computer program, but an audience is made up of people who may not understand or want all the details.

A CEO listening to your presentation will want to know
how much will it cost, how will it benefit the company and how long will it take to get it done. You need to understand how to take the very most technical aspects of your job and adapt them so that an audience filled with non-techies can be persuaded to go forward with your idea. How do you do that?

WIIFM: What’s in it for me? Using examples, illustrations and speaking in plain language, you will be able to quickly capture your audience’s attention and explain the benefits of the idea that they’re trying to communicate. In plain language:  How will it save money? Save time? Eliminate waste? Increase productivity?

(Plain language: Jargon-free free language absent of things like acronyms, software program names or equipment specifications.)

Know what it is that you want to say—and get to the point quickly.
Technical professionals often have a tendency to feel that content is more important than presentation, which is often not the case from the audience’s perspective. For the best chance of persuading your audience, present more examples of specific points, as opposed to more specific points with fewer examples. In other words, less is more. If you try to do a data dump by just heaving more and more information on top of your audience, you’re going to have less of an impact.

Now put it in context. Great public speakers like to tell stories or provide examples. It’s not enough to open with a great topic sentence. Follow it up with a “For example,” so that the audience understands the context of the main point.

Repeat yourself in a different way. At any given time people’s attention will be drawn away from the speaker by either internal distractions or external distractions. People often want you to repeat, just to make sure that they understand, but they don’t want you to repeat it the same way. There is an old saying that can serve as a template for driving home your point in three different ways:

“Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em. Tell ‘em. Tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em.”

To summarize some thumb rules for public speaking:

  • Know your audience and speak in plain English
  • Speak to the needs of your audience (“What’s in it for them?”)
  • Persuade by explaining benefits
  • Know what you are going to say and get to the point quickly
  • Put the main points in context with examples
  • Repeat the main points in different ways at the conclusion of your presentation

Unfortunately, many good ideas and IT professionals get overlooked in the business world because of poor public speaking skills and lackluster verbal pitches. IT professionals who stand up and communicate their ideas to diverse audiences will advance in their careers. Everyone from the CEO and CFO to shareholders and advertisers are ready to listen. The question is, will you speak up?

Do you have a presentation coming up that you want to be interesting and professional? I can help!
For more information contact Don Gabor at            718-768-0824       or don@dongabor.com.  

Don Gabor Conversation Arts Media Dongabor.com Don@dongabor.com 

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