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Transcript: CUWC – Think about your communication differently


Hi, I'm Davina Stanley, Managing Director of Clarity College. We help business people make the complex clear and clear compelling in their business communication, particularly when communicating upward.

This is part four of the Communicate Up With Clarity course and today I want to share with you an idea that will take the stress out of preparing your next piece of communication, cut the time it takes to prepare it, and see you avoid being stumped by one of the most uncomfortable questions in business. So what? Why should I care? Why do I need to know about that? How will that help the business? I'd like you to prepare your communication as though it was part of your analytical process, rather than something you do at the very end, at the last minute.

When I talk with clients about the way they organise themselves to prepare pieces of communication, they usually tell me they don't think too hard about the process, they just write or prepare their charts. Communication, after all, feels like a natural thing to do. However, there are some common mistakes that people make and I'd like to help you overcome one of these today.

Let me test my hunch with you first. You leave preparing communication to the very end of your analytical or problem solving process, your project, right? Is this what you do? So if you were to think of this as being time, how much time do you allow during your process, to think about the communication that you'll need to deliver at the end with your findings or your recommendation? Now, when I draw this on the whiteboard, my clients will say to me, ‘Well, maybe, maybe a quarter of the time we spend thinking about our incoming communication'. And then they say, ‘Well, actually, no, no, really, it's not. It's a very small piece at the very end. In fact, we're lucky to spend 10% of our time maybe not even 5% of our time thinking about our communication and what we're going to say'.

So here's what I'd like to do, I'd like to suggest that you change the way you think about that communication activity. I'd like you to start thinking about your communication at the very beginning of your project. Within the first week, I'd like to suggest that you can map out a storyline, a skeleton that's logically organized, that says ‘This is what I think the answer is going to say. This is what I think the communication is going to say at the end of this piece of work'. Now you can keep it to yourself at the beginning, you don't need to share it. It's just an outline of what you think your core messages might be. And I'd like you to revisit that regularly during your process during, your project, so that you can adjust it, tweak it and adapt it according to the findings as you go through the project. 

And then you get to a point where you're ready to start socializing that with key stakeholders, just as a page, not as a whole pack, just a storyline on a page. Take it to them, have a conversation, see how it resonates with them, whether there are any issues you need to address. Think it through carefully at the thinking level, not the document level.

And then once you've got the feedback and incorporated that into your thinking, convert that into a piece of communication, and it won't matter what form that takes. It could be a really big poster with your storyline on it. It could be an email, a paper to the leadership team, to the board, to any other team in your organization. Or it could be a PowerPoint pack, anything at all. But make sure you get the thinking clear and start thinking about it early on in your process and iterate that high level storyline for quite some time before you start to prepare your final piece of communication and you'll find this saves you time, reduces your stress and gets you far better results, and far fewer of those awful ‘So What?' questions.

Now, I hope you've enjoyed this video series, I've thoroughly enjoyed preparing it for you. And I'd also like to invite you, if it interests you to come on a journey with me to learn how to construct storylines, how to use them to great effect in your own business communication. So my Clarity First Coaching Program is a three month program that helps you learn the concepts, put them into practice, come out with a very deep knowledge of how to use them and work within a group while you're doing that. So there are three parts to the program.

The first part is to learn the ideas, learn the concepts in your own time, in small chunks in the Clarity College course called Clarity Concepts. And it's about six hours of work all together.

And then over the three months period, I'll intervene and come and work with you in a Clarity Clinic with a group of other people for an hour and a half, every second week. So we'll have six of those over the three month period. And during those sessions, what we'll do is revisit the concepts lightly, we'll check in and see how you're going with your understanding of them.

And we'll put them into practice through exercises, through discussing the examples that have emerged through the conversations with the group through the Facebook group, and people who've emailed me directly, respecting confidentiality in absolutely every instance. So we'll learn the concepts online, have the Clarity Clinics where we can deepen our understanding, help you keep on track, keep you honest, make sure you keep learning and transferring those ideas into real practice. And then we'll have a communication channel open the whole way through through a Facebook group and also through emails and so on. I'll give you extra ideas to help you along the way, I'll give you small challenges that I deliver to you at appropriate points during the program. And make sure that it's easy for you to put the ideas into practice, small ideas at a time, followed by another small idea, and so on. So that you can take the information in at a pace that you can absorb and apply rather than going to whole day workshop, taking in a whole lot of information. And then thinking, Wow, that was awesome, but not putting any of it into practice.

So if that sounds at all interesting to you, please reach out to me, I'd love to talk to you. I have these programs scheduled regularly during the year and I'd love to invite you to learn more about them and to ask me questions and see whether it might be relevant for you. So if you look below this video, you'll see some details where you can contact me or learn more about the course. I'd love to work with you so I look forward to hearing from you sometime soon.