April 7, 2012

Three Steps To Get Understood Better

by Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012

No matter what you do, you will be misunderstood. Everyone is but you're not powerless. These three steps reduce the risk.
  1. Simplify your content
  2. Energize your delivery
  3. Practice in your club

Simplify Your Content
You know your content but what's "obvious" to you may baffle your audience. It's very easy to include too much content without realizing you have. You might leave out intermediate steps that lead to your conclusion. You may make references that aren't universally understood or that have multiple meanings.

Reducing your content to the essentials adds impact to your message. TED Talks provide excellent examples of what you can do in 18 minutes or less.

Energize Your Delivery
When you have less content, you have less to remember. Now look for ways to add impact to your delivery. Your Toastmaster manuals give tips. Use vocal variety.

Record yourself on video. During the playback, step out of your body and pretend you're watching a stranger. What would you change?

Practice In Your Club
Arrange to practice in your club. At Goodyear Toastmasters, we have a weekly 15-20 minute segment for a Lesson, Debate or Viewpoint. That's ideal. There's enough time to speak for 10 minutes and get suggestions from members. I have used this facility several times.

How do you get on the agenda? The best way is through the VP of Education. Ours sets the schedule a month in advance. Another way is by contacting the meeting Chair in advance.

The group feedback is especially valuable since you're getting an appraisal of both your content and delivery. You still won't be understood by everyone but you'll get suggestions on how to increase your chances.

Promod Sharma is an actuary who keeps looking for ways to be understood (www.promodsharma.com).

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