17 October 2016

Communication for technical experts: #3 Beyond analysing, communicate!


In this blog, I will focus on the importance of stepping back from your analysis early enough so you have time to think through your communication.

This is the third in a blog series on how technical experts can learn to communicate more effectively.

  • In my first blog, I suggested that putting your audience first would change the way you communicate.
  • In my second blog, I talked about ways to engage your audience further, by focusing on what your data means, rather than on your data itself.

Every strong analyst loves conducting a thorough investigation and making sure your analysis is water tight. It is very tempting to keep perfecting your analysis until the 11th hour to make sure it is absolutely right.

However, that does not leave enough time to think through what you need to say to your audience, which is a problem.

It leads you to describing your analysis rather than describing your insights, which short changes your work.

Here are four steps you can take to ensure you think through your communication well enough before presenting (so that your messages land in the way that you want them to):

Step 1. Set yourself an early deadline for your analysis so you can make time to focus on thinking through your communication. Even if you continue to work on your analysis in parallel to refine the lower level details, you will be able to make greater headway with your story if you start early.

Step 2. Prepare a high level storyline which outlines what you think needs to be said early. If you have a four-week project, start developing a strawman for your storyline in Week 1! You will be surprised how much this tactic progresses your analysis too, even if you don’t share it with anybody else until closer to the deadline.

Step 3. Socialise your outline with key stakeholders and incorporate their feedback into your outline.

Step 4. Prepare your actual piece of communication (email, prose, pack, etc.) only after you have agreement on the high level storyline so you do not need to rewrite the whole document multiple times, but can focus on the high level thinking instead.

That concludes my blog series on the three things you could do to master the science of communication. As you develop these skills, you will realise that your analytical skills grounded in logic and synthesis—combined with your technical expertise—can indeed give you an unfair advantage in communicating powerful insights from complex material.

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.

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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).