Happy New Year to you and yours! I’m continuing the Five Biggest Mistakes that Speakers and Leaders Make When Speaking series we started late last year. (See my previous blogs for Speaking Mistakes #1 and #2)
As a child, you realize early on that you can’t speak to your parents or teachers in the same way you talk with your friends or siblings. As an adult, you learn that a conversation with a co-worker or a client can go really well – or terribly – depending on how you approach the topic at hand for each person.
Psychologists have identified at least four different behavioral styles in the workplace – including big picture versus highly detailed, and people-focused versus task-oriented. I’ve found that the third biggest mistake many people make in key presentations and speeches is to ignore these critical differences as they put together and deliver their messages.
When you’re talking with a “big picture” person, your challenge is to get to keep their attention by stating the main point as quickly as possible. You also want to present a broad look of your vision or solution without getting “into the weeds,” without diving into the details.
With people who are highly detail-oriented, they are also usually quite linear in the way they tackle an issue. To succeed, you need to lay out your information in an orderly way, going step by step through your explanation.
“OMG,” you may be thinking! “What happens when both of these styles are in front of me at the same time?”
One tactic that can help you appeal to both extremes is to tell a good story or present a case history that is relevant. You’ll want to outline the problem in overview terms, and then describes what steps were taken – or could be taken – to resolve it, keeping your answers as thorough but as concise as possible.
To slant your content to the people-oriented folks in your audience, it’s best to use stories or examples of how others have worked through an issue, what’s popular among certain groups and why. For the task-focused, include details of how the work is being carried out, cost factors, timelines and other relevant factors that can influence the outcome of a project or goal.
By taking the time to adjust your content to appeal to the different styles in your audience, you increase your own odds of success and everyone else wins, too!
Want your next presentation or speech to go better than ever? I invite you to watch my video, a live recording of “How to Avoid the Five Biggest Speaking Mistakes That Leaders Make,” presented to the Florida International Bankers Association – FIBA Chats recently in Miami. Just click here.