Everyone's perspective on effective communication changes as we gain experience. In middle and high school we were taught to communicate based on certain length requirements; for essays and reports we had to write based on page count and, for presentations, we had to speak for a certain amount of time. There were topics we had to talk about, but we were graded on quantity. If you did not meet a length requirement, you would fail because that's what teachers or professors cared about. It would cause people to use excessive amounts of pointless words that were only used to meet these "length requirements." This made me so frustrated because I could easily speak or write less than the requirement but, apparently, it was more beneficial for me to write or speak based on length instead of content. From continuously writing/speaking like this for years, it was a habit for me to communicate like this in any setting. I tend to write way more than I should (like in some of these blog posts) or speak for too long. Communicating in a business setting is very different from what I have been learning to do the past 8 years.
In a business setting, like Indium Corporation, the most effective way to communicate is to be short and to the point. Honestly, no one wants to hear a ton of fluff in a speech or in a lab report. To achieve this, you need to understand what you are talking about, how you should deliver this message, and what details are sufficient without going overboard. If you are asked to prepare a 30-minute presentation and you only talk for 15, that is fine as long as you talk about the information you were asked to talk about. Do you really think people want you to talk for 30 minutes on one topic? No, they don't. They will actually feel relieved if you speak in less time. This also applies to writing reports, and emails. To communicate effectively, one has to answer the following questions: What is your goal? Who is your audience? What is your message and how are you going to deliver that message to your audience? What are the sufficient details needed to get your message across? Think about these questions next time you have to write a report, present, or even write an email.
This week, our lunch & learn was focused on effective communication. The presentation was led by Anita Brown, Indium Corporation's marketing communication manager. She covered communicating in person, in writing, through email, presenting, and everything in between. The one thing I absolutely loved about her presentation was that she made us watch a small bit of our "Bragging Day" presentations. For those of you who have no idea what this is, all of the 2016 Indium Corporation college interns delivered a mid-point presentation about our projects and what we have learned so far at our internship. From all the years I have done presentations, Anita was the first person to make me watch myself speak. I found this very helpful because it made me understand how I present, and what I could improve on in the future. After we watched our presentations, we got to criticize ourselves. One thing I noticed when I spoke was that I seemed too rehearsed which showed how tense I was while I was speaking. I need to learn how to relax while I am speaking because that relaxes the audience. I was glad that Anita was able to provide me with this learning experience. Thank you Anita!
I met with Rick Short the day after we presented to get advice for future presentations and he said he saw two different Lindsay's that day. He said, "I saw the Lindsay that was so focused on hitting all the bullet points in her speech. But, when someone asked you a question I immediately saw the Lindsay who was relaxed and smiling. The second Lindsay is the person who should do your presenting in the future. That is the person everyone wants to see speaking because you relax the audience and they are more interested in listening to what you have to say if you are relaxed and are yourself." He was 100% right. I now know to relax and have fun.
If anyone else has any advice for me on effective communication please let me know! I would love to learn what helps other people when they present or communicate to others in person.
Until Next Time!