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How To Visually Save Your Audience From Boredom

How To Visually Save Your Audience From Boredom

“Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple” (Charles Mingus)

You don’t want me to do that, and I wouldn’t, if not out of necessity, believe me.

Once upon a time not long ago, you were requested to do something you wouldn’t do on purpose or even remotely willingly: “John, we need you at the next board meeting on Friday.” Your boss shouts at you, “Please prepare to present our status on the product-strategy, projects, risks and chances, suppliers, clients and so on, you know…”

Immediately, you feel that chill creeping down your spine. The one, unmistakably approaching at times, when something you fear for a reason is going to happen soon.

In front of your eye the following scene unfolds:

Board meetings are one of a kind. They’re lengthy, aiming at — what exactly? Everyone wants to be in the loop about what has happened recently, right? Many, I mean many PowerPoint slides are needed. Up to two hours presenting many numbers, complex correlations of business-processes, projects, suppliers and so on.

After a short while in any of that meetings, the audience, especially on Friday afternoons, tend to do the following:

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  • Being unable to follow up
  • Getting bored
  • Fall asleep

You wish more than anything at that point there would be a way out. Any easier approach, something doable at least would do just well.

Rest assured, there is a surprisingly helpful approach to the rescue.

  • You will calm your fears of presenting many slides on a Friday
  • Get back the control over your audience
  • Stop the audience from getting bored in the first place
  • Even better, make them remember your presentation and engage with you

Clear Storyline

    What’s happening?

    As Antonio Zamora, entrepreneur and founder of Wimz.ch puts it:

    “Take a pen, and the audience switches to the same level as you. Even accepting, you are being the teacher in the room now.”

    In 3 steps, I’m now going to tell you, how you can approach the audience visually and tackle a complex scenario. Creating an image to tell a story will help a lot to attract and engage the audience.

    1. Learn about your “story”

    Message, Content and Visuals are the three essential parts of any successful presentation. Make sure you invest all your knowledge and of course, your creativity to form a substantial body of your play.

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    Do as much as you can, to become an expert about what you will present.

    Studies from Eyeful Presentations show that most presenters have either 1 to 2 hours or a day and more time to prepare for a presentation.

    One way or the other, the most crucial part will be the message. Invest slightly more to what is the central story you want to tell your audience. The other two go as equal parts to the content and visuals.

    2. Visualize your play

    In our example from the beginning, we have many topics to cover. Let’s do it:

    • Product-Strategy
    • Projects
    • Risks and chances
    • Suppliers
    • Clients

    Assuming, those being the main topics, you need to create an image with them as integral parts.

    Wow, I hear you say, how on earth should I do that.

    Well, the bad news is: there will be no golden rule for how doing it.
    On the positive side, you can always challenge yourself. In this example, I show you, there is no rocket science part in it either.

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    Product-strategy can mean many things, mostly it’s something not razor sharp. Hopefully for most of you guys, it’s there, but could equally well exist in a cloud. So why not using that to visualize it?

    Who better than you know, that projects always are like a long road. They will have milestones in it and a beginning and an end.
    Well, scribble a path or road. Why not place any trees on its sides? How’s that, not too hard, right?

    Risks are always something, business professionals fear. For that reason it can be something like an animal that occasionally crosses your path, and you won’t be happy to spot it. A wolf? Yes, why not.

    Chances are what makes your day, they’re shiny and bright, like the sun sometimes.

    A supplier provides products or parts for your company, and the cute Little Red Riding Hood would be just great to visualize just that.

    The clients are nice people all your business is about. They mark the end, or as well the beginning of the road and may live in lovely little homes.

    3. Draw

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    See what we did? We created pieces of scenery that even preschoolers could paint. My point is, in no case be too hard with yourself if you now paint that story.

    Take a piece of paper and combine those little parts in one image. Even better, grab your whiteboard for a spin and just do it.
    After a couple of times trying, you will feel it. The story and with it a remarkable start of your upcoming meeting will visualize in front of you.

    Of course you guessed it: In the end this would make a beautiful scene of the well known fairy-tail The Red Riding Hood.

    Example Visualization

    The following graphics show you even better that you don’t need to be an artist to visualize a great deal of information. Likewise, it’s doable even without being a creativity wizard to start using the drawing for business use-cases.

    Balance
      Symbols-Library
        Meeting

          Background

          Why does it all work that way? The scientific reasoning has a lot to do with how we perceive ourselves and the environment. How do we process and digest that information, learn and communicate with each other?

          Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP is that discipline of the cognitive and behavioral science, that deals with us being subjective humans.

          According to the Business Directory, it even provides the pattern, how words and symbols are used to create mental pictures that our senses use to process the according experience later stored in the brain.

          Please find out more here and here.

          More by this author

          Jochen Burkhard

          Owner Burkhard Consulting

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          Last Updated on April 11, 2019

          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

          Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

          I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

          I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

          Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

          How Communication Skills Help Your Success

          Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

          Create a Positive Experience

          Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

          When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

          What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

          Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

          As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

          Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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          Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

          Help Leadership Skills

          It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

          Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

          As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

          Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

          If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

          Build Better Teams

          Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

          In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

          If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

          When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

          Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

          There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

          Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

          1. Listen

          Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

          Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

          People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

          Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

          Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

          2. Know Your Audience

          Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

          Here is a good way to think about it:

          Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

          You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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          3. Minimize

          I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

          He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

          Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

          State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

          The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

          4. Over Communicate

          So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

          What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

          Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

          Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

          Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

          There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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          5. Body Language

          The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

          When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

          In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

          When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

          Conclusion

          Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

          Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

          There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

          Now go communicate your way to success.

          More Resources About Effective Communication

          Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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