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The One Mistake That Is Sabotaging Your Communication
If you want to become a more confident communicator … don’t sabotage yourself with this one mistake:
Preparing your thoughts incorrectly.
Very few people can just speak of the cuff and sound polished. Most of us have to jot down our thoughts prior to a presentation or meeting. But the mistake comes when we write everything down word for word.
Often I work with clients who will hand me paragraphs of what they want to say … down to the correct punctuation marks and capital letters. They think by crafting everything start to finish, they’ll be more prepared. Wrong. Instead all they’ll be is more robotic and less relatable.
When we write down what we want to say in full sentences or even paragraphs, we become married to those words. Our brain becomes bogged with having to memorize an entire script and we come across as if we’re reading out loud instead of speaking conversationally.
Think of the cadence of a third grader reading a story out loud. Now think about that same kid retelling a tale from the playground that day. Two completely different types of communicating. That’s because when we read, no matter what age we are, our inflection isn’t always natural.
Plus, and here’s a big plus, when we write things down we tend to write more formally than how we speak. We write “you are” but we say “you’re”. We write “are not” but we say “aren’t.” When we memorize what we want to say, directly from a fully written document we come across as more formal and stilted. The words don’t sound as natural when spoken, as they do when read. Can you imagine if someone got off the phone and said “Sincerely?”
So, since you don’t want to write everything down first. How can you organize your thoughts so you can better communicate with confidence?
Use bullet points.
Here’s why bullet points work, bullet points provide:
- An outline of what we want to say.
- Our brains are forced to fill in the rest.
- We have clear stepping stones guiding us.
- We sound more natural, more conversational, and more relatable.
- We’re more flexible and less tied to a fully written script.
- You can better make eye contact without losing your place.
When our brains fill in the gaps instead of regurgitating memorized words, we sound more authentic and less formal. We become a little more genuine and less stiff. Formal and stiff aren’t words anyone would use to describe a confident communicator. But relatable, authentic, and conversational fit the bill.
So before your next meeting, call or presentation, jot down your ideas in bullet point form. Write down your key messages, your proof points, perhaps a word you definitely want to use, and then … practice. As much as you can. You’ll be well on your way to becoming a more confident communicator!