Do you ever feel like you just can’t get your point across? Have you ever kicked yourself after speaking with a client and wished you had touched on a topic, only it never came up in conversation?
The answer to becoming a more effective, successful and purposeful communicator may just lie back in your elementary school gym.
Remember the game dodgeball? Two teams standing on either side, throwing balls at each other, and the last one standing wins? Yes I know it’s been years since anyone’s actually played the game dodgeball -- but I can tell you over my 20 years as a Television Journalist, Media Trainer and Presentations Coach, I’ve watched countless clients “play” dodgeball while answering questions. They’re constantly on defense, dodging questions and hoping to still be standing when it’s over.
Even an easy question you know the answer to can lead to “playing” dodgeball. You simply answer the question… but then you’re back on defense again, hoping you’re not taken down by the next question thrown at you.
The key to becoming a more effective and purposeful communicator is to change your mind set from reactive to proactive. What does proactive communicating look like?
Proactive communicating means:
- Seeing questions as opportunities and not as obligations.
- Understanding just because I’ve asked you a question, doesn’t mean we’re stuck on that topic until I ask you the “right” question that leads you towards your message and goal.
- Having a message and working on making sure it’s heard.
Imagine this ...
You see a client at a tradeshow and that client asks you “How are you?” You simply answer, “I’m good thanks!” Now what? What’s the next question your client is going to ask? You don’t know. Now you’re playing dodgeball! You’re on defense, waiting to see if you can dodge the next one.
You see a client at a tradeshow and that client asks you “How are you?” You answer, “I’m great thanks! I’m actually working on a really exciting new launch that I think you’ll be interested in.” Now you’re no longer on defense, simply reacting to the question asked. A proactive communicator would see “How are you?” as an opportunity.
When you view questions as obligations you allow the person asking the question to essentially control the conversation. You allow yourself to get stuck talking about what someone else wants to talk about. When you see questions as opportunities instead, you take yourself off defense and you start to communicate proactively and with purpose.
So the next time you’re facing a question from a client, your boss, your team, the media… think about the game of dodgeball! Who wants to repeat elementary school again? Don’t play elementary school games when communication counts! Stop playing dodgeball during Q&A and start seeing opportunities instead. That simple switch from reactive to proactive is the first step in becoming a more successful and effective communicator.
This is the first in a series of blogs on Confident Communicating sponsored by thINK. For other great resources visit thINKforum.com.
Amy Fond is a Media trainer and Presentations Coach with Cameron Communications www.mediatrainer.tv For more information visit her Linked-In page at www.linkedin.com/in/amyfond or e-mail email@example.com