We can all communicate. The challenge? Really making yourself heard. Communication coach and bestselling author Paul McGee explains why this is such a crucial skill.
Imagine the scene. You’re desperate to win a new job and you make it to the final stage of the selection process. An interview at head office which includes you giving a 10 minute presentation.
You plan for this final interview as if your life depended on it. You’ve never had any training or coaching on giving a presentation before, but you’ve sat through countless presentations.
You know the score. Polite and formal opening. A slide showing a list of bullet points outlining your objectives. Then an overview of your background. A section that includes an overview of what you’ve learnt about the company. The next section is on the role and what specific skills you can bring to it, followed by a summary and conclusion.
You like making slides. And if the interviewer missed anything, you’ve written down all the details on them, which they can always refer back to.
Fast forward two weeks; the job went to someone else. The recruitment agency says you were the strongest candidate on paper, your experience was just what they were looking for. So what went wrong?
In a nutshell: your presentation. You bombed. The content on your slides overwhelmed them and they didn’t feel they got to know the real you. They sensed within 90 seconds of your start that you weren’t the right person.
You were professional, polite and knowledgeable, but you were also, I’m afraid, forgettable. You needed to stand out. You needed to grab their attention immediately. You needed to deliver with energy and authenticity. The deal is: “When you’re bland, you blend.”
Trust me, the above scenario happens every single day. People with the experience lose out due to their ineffective communication skills. The question is: how can you make sure that person isn’t you?
Now I recognise you might not have an important presentation to make for a job interview. Perhaps you’re a manager seeking ways to engage and motivate your staff, or a teacher or trainer wanting to make a difference. Whatever the scenario or situation, here’s the sad reality:
You may have the expertise, experience, passion and professionalism, but you could lack one crucial thing: The ability to communicate your message in a compelling way that causes your audience to take notice and listen.
Your ability to influence others, build your career, and achieve your personal goals is dependent on how effectively you communicate and engage with people.
Recently a colleague of mine was asked to sit on a panel that was responsible for awarding a £90,000 research grant spread over three years. All applicants were asked to present their case for why they should be awarded the grant. Ultimately, the £90,000 was given not to the best applicant on paper, but to the person who made the most persuasive presentation.
Think about that for a moment. £90,000 That’s a lot of money to lose out on because you weren’t effective at communicating your message.
Trust me, this stuff really does matter to you and your future success. So make sure you never forget the following: Knowing the words to a song doesn’t make you a great singer. Neither does having expertise in a subject make you a great speaker.
Here’s both a harsh and sad fact. Some people have values and views many would find offensive. But they get heard not simply because of what they believe, but because of how well they communicate their message.
That’s why I believe developing your skill as a communicator is crucial. Master this skill and it will help get you noticed, get along better with others and get ahead in life. Fact.
How to Speak so People Really Listen: The Straight-Talking Guide to Communicating with Influence and Impact by Paul McGee, published by Capstone, is out now
Paul McGee is a communication coach, conference speaker and bestselling author who also works on a consultancy and coaching basis with an English Premier League football team. In 2002 he developed the SUMO (Shut Up, Move On) brand and recently launched SUMO4Schools, designed to help young people realise their potential and develop skills for life.
To find out more about Paul’s work, visit www.theSUMOguy.com