Over the course of this blog, we write frequently about the important ingredients for great communication… clarity and brevity chief among them.
Today we touch on a third critical ingredient: context. Context is critical. Context creates relevance. Context helps your audience engage and listen. Context helps your audience care.
We are all time starved. We are all attention deprived, to varying degrees. And much of the time, when we walk into meetings or presentations or join conference calls, we arrive with lots of other things on our mind. We all do this, myself included. Often it will take several minutes for us to even begin to listen, to even begin to engage. And by then, it may be too late, if the speaker has sprinted through the opening bit and is neck deep in the detail once you start to engage.
Unless, our meeting, presentation or conference call is being led by someone who knows what they are doing…
When the speaker opens with context and relevance, it helps the audience start listening and engage more quickly. It helps the listener become present in the room. And it helps everyone in the room, whether they arrived distracted or not, understand the topic and purpose of the meeting or call.
Start your calls, presentations or meetings with context… Here is what we are talking about today, and here is why it is important/relevant/valuable for you/us/our customers… Lead this way. And don’t be afraid to linger on the context, just to make sure you have captured the attention. The more important the meeting, the more we recommend lingering on the context, to make sure you have their attention. Because once your audience realizes “hey, this is important to me,” they will choose to engage more and listen better. And that choice is critical to your success.
Avoid the mistake of skipping context. Avoid the flawed assumption that the audience does not need context because they are already familiar with the topic. Avoid the mistake of diving straight into the detail.
Ease your way into the pool, so to speak. Get everyone level set with context. It doesn’t have to take long. In many cases, it might only take a minute or two.
But that minute or two will be perhaps the most valuable minutes in your entire meeting.
We believe that great communication skills change the world. We transform people and organizations of all sizes with simple, repeatable techniques, through an integrated platform of corporate training, coaching, and asynchronous learning.
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