Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Language Patterns for Trainers and Public Speakers

I've been at a conference for the last two days and I'm truly amazed by the breadth of speaking and presentation styles I've seen on display. I'm a little concerned however, at the lack of appreciation that a lot of us still seem to have about simple things that can make our presentations, workshops and training more effective. I'm not talking mumbo-jumbo here - I just put together a list of patterns that I think make you easy to understand when you're in a crowd and also make you someone the crowd can identify.

CriteriaDescriptionPositive Indicators
Positive Words and PhrasesUse words and phrases that say what is possible, what we can do, how we can overcome problems, as opposed to what we can't do. Emphasise positive, minimise negatives.Use positive words. eg: "Here's what you can do..." instead of "The only thing you can do..."
"Certainly" instead of "Hopefully".
A Clear tone of voiceDemonstrate clarity by using simple language. "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." -- Charles MingusTry to be easy to understand and don't throw jargon. When you do throw jargon, explain it!
A Confident tone of voiceUse a direct tone of voice to reflect your openness and energy.Use active voice eg 'I have decided' rather than 'a decision has been made').
A Different tone of voiceUse a tone of voice that makes you stand out a bit rather than sounding just like those other boring old companies.Your language should sound simple rather than 'solicitor speak'. Be creative enough to come up with new words instead of repeating the same word twice or repeating the same word or joke!
A Human tone of voiceUse a tone of voice that connects with your audience instead of sounding faceless and bureaucratic.Training is conversational and not straight out of an instruction manual. Your audience should feel spoken with rather than barked at.
Show EmpathyUse emphasis to acknowledge student's query. Reflect your audience's concern or query.Say 'I can understand' etc. Mirror your student's style (eg word length and complexity). Rephrase 'What I hear you saying...'
Acknowledge their contributions, 'I like that thought – thanks! So you're saying...'
Identify NeedsWhen asked a question, listen to the student/ audience member carefully to establish what she wants to know.Answer their student's question while repeating the original question. 'So your question was...'
Take OwnershipTake responsibility for the classroom/ conference session.Say 'I...' or 'We...' rather than 'they' or 'company_name'.
Focus on SolutionsWhen faced with choices, explain how to do something instead of the limitations of the process.Say how something can be done. Offer ways of resolving problems rather than reasons for or why they occurred.

Eg, "Here's a couple of other ways to solve that problem" instead of "Your solution wont work because..."

6 comments:

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