The 7 C’s of Good Communication

We commonly refer to the 7 C’s of good communication – apply these fundamentals and you will achieve excellence both in your oral and written communication. My thoughts on these below:

Complete

  • This means that the message should be whole; from beginning to end it should contain information the recipient needs (and reach a conclusion). Preferably the reader/listener shouldn’t have to hunt for the main drive of the message.

Concise

  • Parsimonious – this was one of my psych lecturer’s favourite words. It actually means to be frugal or stingy, but he would often apply it in terms of writing/communicating. Less is more!

Coherent

  • Keep your message logical. Simply put, as you write, prepare a presentation or simply speak to a person, ask yourself – does this make sense? As subject matter experts in our respective fields, it is easy to think that recipients will easily understand our message, but when communicating to individuals it is useful to remember that they may not have the same terms of reference/experience that we ourselves have. Start from the basics, provide an overview and then work your way up.

Clear

  • Keep it Simple Stupid! – The KISS Principle. Not the nicest thing my English teacher ever said to me, but useful nonetheless. Avoid tiring your reader/listener with excessive wordiness; say what you mean! If you are planning a large written project, start with a strategy before you start writing – this is time well spent.

Concrete

  • So What? The So What Principle. For every sentence that you write or every explanation that you offer, think, “so what?” Because that is what your reader is thinking. Don’t just say “the what'”, but also explain “the why” – why you are making the point and, above all, how it is relevant to the person you are communicating with. Use specifics.

Courteous

  • RESPECT – “find out what it means to me”. We all know the song; let’s make sure we put it into practice! Consider the person you are speaking to/writing to. The written word can be misunderstood (tone can be lost/added) so unless it is vital that you communicate in writing, it is much better to “walk and talk”. Remember that the person you are dealing with has their own battles to deal with, and keeping this perspective may help lessen an adversarial perspective. We are all on the same team!

Correct

  • Accuracy will increase the confidence of the person you are interacting with. This doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers; rather, communicate the information that you do have and be direct about what is in progress.

Some experts use different terms including – “Considerate“, “Credible” and “Creative“; I believe these terms speak for themselves, and there is some cross-over in meaning.

Bonus Extra

My favourite word at university became “Cogency” – defined as the quality or state of being convincing or persuasive. Keep this in mind to give your communications an edge!

 

Public Speaking – Tips and Tools

Tips on How to Present (Represent Yourself Well)

My Perspective

I used to loathe making presentations right up until high school, which is when I experienced something of a break through…

First Realisation

Everyone in the audience wants you to do well. Realise this and it will make the whole group-presentation experience much easier for you. Think about yourself as an audience member; when a presenter starts to speak and makes a good job of it, don’t you find that you relax and feel good that they are doing well. But if a speaker stands up and appears nervous or stumbles over their words, don’t you then find that you feel bad for them (I tend to sit in the audience and mentally will them to do well; “you can do it, you can do it!”).

Do a great job and everyone will benefit.

Second Realisation

We as speaker/presenter just need to get past ourselves. By this I mean; why not project the best and most positive version of yourself rather than the shy/uncertain side (we all have moments where we are one or the other). Choose to be the most confident version of you – and keep remembering as you present that when you do this, you help your audience.

You are there to add value to their lives – they are on your side and will appreciate your efforts.

Some Practical Stuff

  • Prepare prepare prepare! I wouldn’t advise following an exact script on the day; rather, prepare your words in advance to ensure that you have nailed the subject. Use the PowerPoint/Prezi (less is more) or notes to prompt you to keep the flow of speech/topic order logical. You are definitely better to over prepare than underprepare as this will increase your confidence going in.
  • Start with good energy! Ensure you memorise at least the first couple of slides. Start well, and that will increase your own confidence and also make a great first impression on your audience. The success of starting well will spur you on to do well for the remainder of the presentation. Use the bullet points as a mental jog but try to avoid reading them out (use them as a starting point only).
  • Find the friendly faces in the crowd. You will always find in any group at least two or three people who tend to act as “active audience participants”. I think of these people as the “encouragers”. Find the smiling faces and focus on them; it will encourage you and also make the audience feel that you are engaging with them.
  • Never apologise. No self-deprecating remarks please! Humans have a tendency to over-apologise for themselves when they feel uncertain in a situation – try to avoid this. Keep your speech positive (and on-track by keeping your self-talk positive). This will increase the audience’s confidence in you.
  • Handle the hecklers. Sometimes audience members may interject in a less than timely fashion. Consider in advance how you would deal with such an eventuality; “yes you raise an interesting point; let’s discuss that further during the Q&A time” etc.
  • Don’t fidget! Murphy’s Law dictates that your nose will become unbearably itchy the moment you step up – ignore it! Fidgety presenting isn’t a good look.
  • Vary your tone of voice. Try to avoid speaking in a monotone!
  • Handle minor glitches with finesse. Think about ways to handle it if things go wrong (technical difficulties with PowerPoint etc.). Try not to worry if they do – chances are that your audience didn’t actually notice the minor fumble anyway! Keep a sense of perspective.
  • Number your slides for ease of reference for audience members who may wish to refer back to particular slides during the Q&A time.
  • Keep it light. Inject humour where possible (again, another thing I wouldn’t try to rehearse – naturally occurring jokes always turn out better!)

Stand tall! Remember you are there to help people and add value. You and the audience are all on the same team 🙂