We are a society of rules. We have rules for everything from how we drive to how an NFL team can spy on another team. So why would you think there are not rules for communication? You didn’t know, you claim. Try that defense the next time you are stopped for speeding!
The more rules you know and the better you know the rules, the more you will have the ability to use communication to move your business or your career forward. You’ve sat through them a thousand times: a panel, a speaker, a presentation. Nothing better than a good one, nothing more painful than a boring one. Whether it’s a presidential primary or a sales presentation: to whom much is given, much is expected.
When we give people our time and the opportunity to have the spotlight: we have the right to expect much. In my work as a Communication Coach, I have identified 50 Rules of Communication. Let’s look at the first ten rules and how and why each rule affects your success as a speaker. (For the entire list of the 50 Rules of Communication, email [email protected])
- There are Rules
The first rule to know is that there are rules. You don’t have to follow these rules as long as you are willing to live with rule #2. All rules come with choices and consequences. Along with the choices you make come the consequences.
- There are Consequences
In any kind of speaking, you have the right to implement or not implement any rule . . . as long as you are willing to live with the results. For example, you don’t have to use a microphone. The consequence is that much of your audience will not be able to hear you and will lose interest.
- There is Value in Clarity
The value in a successful 21st century communicator is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.
- Begin Where You Want to End
It seems natural to begin a presentation at the beginning. Once you understand the rules of communication, you understand that you want to begin at the end. Begin where you want the audience to be when you finish,
“At the end of the presentation you will know”.
- Know the Criteria by Which You will be Evaluated
You don’t need a professional to tell you whether or not a speaker was good. What you may not know is why. When a speaker is effective, that means that they are fulfilling 7, 8 or 9 criteria well. Do you know the ten criteria for any speaker: do you know what you do well?
- Implement the Three T’s
Ronald Reagan credited his success to the way he was taught to organize a speech in elementary school. Sometimes it is referred to as the Three T’s: tell them what you want to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them. Each part of the presentation has a job to do and so do you
- Tie the Conclusion to the Introduction
This rule often separates amateurs from the professionals. The test of an introduction is not how good it is: how well it gets attention or previews the speech. The test is if the introduction will lend itself to being tied to the conclusion. Think of your presentation as a gift that you tie together with a bow from introduction to conclusion.
- The Rule of Even Though
This rule applies as much to parents talking to teenagers as it does in a formal speech. Very simply, nothing that comes after the words even though changes what came before it.
- Your Audience Drives Everything
Know your audience: what do they want to hear, what do they need to hear,
what will comfort them, what is their educational background, and so much
- Practice Correctly
Practice only counts if it is out loud. The only way to correctly time the length of a presentation is to practice out loud. Practice in the actual venue at the same time of day as you will give your presentation.
The Rules of Communication are Clear and Finite. To whom much is given, much is expected. When you are given the spotlight of visibility, much is expected. Do you know the rules?