In our communication skills workshops, there is a theme that always comes up that seems to surprise first-time participants. We talk about many of the most important aspects of great business communication: clarity, brevity, being memorable, setting context, communicating value, staying “on message”… all of the things that are required in the 21st century business environment.
But then the surprise for most people is that we translate all of those communication characteristics into the theme of “respecting your audience.” And we usually get more than a few raised eyebrows when the topic of respect comes up.
It’s a straightforward idea… You are busy, the people you work with are busy, everyone is busy. Busy, successful people (exactly the type of people you probably are trying to do business with) hate having their time wasted. And therefore the best way to build your own credibility, AND the best way to demonstrate that you respect your audience is by showing up to your meetings, conference calls, and presentations prepared. When we do the necessary preparation, and are ready to communicate clearly, we are, above all else, demonstrating that we respect our audience’s time. When we show up unprepared, and cannot get to the point, cannot communicate value, cannot make it easy for our audience to remember the key messages, we are wasting their time and hurting our own brand.
I’ve seen, all too often, projects delayed, careers slowed and credibility hurt because of one bad presentation or one poor meeting. And the biggest roadblock to sufficient preparation is that people convince themselves that they are SO busy, that they cannot find the time to prepare. Well, what will be more costly to you… finding the time to prepare amidst your busy day? Or being forced to spend more time afterwards to clean up the mess from a bad meeting, or to have to schedule a second meeting to get your sales process back on track?
Respect your audience. Show up prepared. And in respecting your audience, you also build your own credibility and your own brand. That’s a win for everyone.
Have a great day.
(Originally published May 8, 2013)