When there’s a serious message to deliver, we often ponder the words we want to use, redrafting them, and practicing how we’ll deliver them, until we think we have it right. But despite all our best efforts, many messages are not understood as intended.
One reason this occurs is because we tend to communicate messages the way we like to hear them, without considering how our listeners might hear them.
Combine this tendency with the fact that, according to communication experts, less than 10% of our spoken words are heard and understood, and it becomes clearer why so many messages are not received. About 40% of message comprehension is due to how well the message is delivered, how well it connects with the audience. And the remaining 50% is related to what the audience observes while a message is being presented.
Effective communications connect with your audience in 4 ways:
1. What people hear (verbal connection): The way you use your voice while communicating affects your potential to connect. Your tone, inflection, timing, volume and pacing impact the response you will receive. When the need to connect is vital, ensure that your message is clear and direct, and plan how you will deliver it.
2. What people understand (intellectual connection): A productive intellectual connection requires that your audience judges your knowledge about the topic to be credible, that your words and actions reflect your conviction, and that their experience enables them to grasp the intention of your message.
3. What people feel (emotional connection): When you’re communicating, your people feel your attitude, positive or negative. While you speak, they sense your energy, intensity, and sincerity. This either attracts or alienates them, impacting your connection attempt. Your attitude always overpowers your words. Sharing a personal experience often opens people’s hearts and minds, helping to forge a connection with you.
4. What people see (visual connection): All communication creates an impression of the communicator that either strengthens or weakens their message. For your message to generate a positive reaction, be aware of how you act and how you look to others; dress and act appropriately for the audience, the situation, and your message.
Communication only succeeds when the message is received, so give due consideration to your audience when planning and delivering your message.
How often do you consider these 4 connection points when developing your message?