Technical experts, who specialise in analytical professions such as technology, finance and engineering, often don’t think of themselves as great communicators.
If you specialise in these areas, you are often great with numbers and analysis, and see those aspects as more interesting and comfortable than communication.
This is because you probably believe that communication is an art.
What if we told you that your analytical skills grounded in logic and synthesis—combined with your technical expertise—give you an unfair advantage in drawing powerful insights from complex material?
You will be pleased to know that the ‘science’ of communication is just as important as the ‘art’.
In this blog series, we will talk about three distinct things you can do to start mastering the science of communication:
- Focusing on your audience, more than on your analysis
- Focusing on what your data means, more than on the data itself
- Allowing enough time to synthesise your ideas into a tight story
So, let’s talk about the first one of these today.
The first step toward mastering this science is to accept that communication is as much—if not more—about your audience than it is about you.
You are passionate about your subject, you have done exhaustive research, and you are excited to describe every twist and turn in your problem-solving journey.
You believe that to help the audience appreciate your main finding, you need to provide the background—all of it—before you get to the main insights.
However, your audience needs you to do the opposite: they need you to start with the main point and the high level context so they can then understand what to do with all of the details.
The good news is that preparing your communication this way also forces you to think through what all of your details actually mean to your audience, rather than what they mean to you.
So, be kind to your audience. Start with the main point, and the top level supporting points.
Especially if your results are provocative or controversial.
That will pique their interest and switch their curiosity on, rather than confuse them and make them wonder how they could join the dots. Or, worse, cause them to draw the wrong conclusions.
So, instead of telling them something like this:
Hi Emperor Palpatine,
Tell them something like this:
Please confirm by COB today that you agree with this approach so we can proceed.
By providing the main point at the beginning, you provide a framework for listeners to make sense of subsequent supporting points.
That was the first of three things you could do to master the science of communication. To develop this ability further, consider applying it in your next email, article or presentation.
Next week’s post will talk more about how you can construct your communication to highlight what your data means, not just what it is.
Free eBook. Read more about this topic in the eBook 'Turning Technical Experts into Effective Communicators', which you may like to download by clicking on the image below. At the back of the eBook are useful links, including a recording of the webinar I presented in collaboration with Velpic.
About Davina Stanley. Davina is a Strategic Communication Specialist who helps executives make the complex clear and the clear compelling in their problem solving and communication. She has 20 years' experience coaching and enabling professionals to clarify and communicate complex ideas so they can get their main points across quickly (ideally within 30 seconds).