In times of disruption, information can be very helpful. But only if it is shared clearly and structured in a memorable way that captures and retains attention. Especially if you are communicating through a computer screen.
You need to put audiences first.
As many businesses and institutions pivot to remote work including video conference calls, below are some general tips that I give to my clients. These are especially important for experts engaging non-experts.
When you are engaging with audiences outside of your speciality, that information can be presented more clearly by consciously prioritizing three components of messaging: word choice, narrative structure, and visual / slide design.
1. Use words that your audience finds familiar.
Swap out technical terms for more immediately clear phrases. This might increase your word count, but that’s better than a short message that’s only clear to a small number of specialists.
2. Open with the central piece of information.
Lead with the captivating information first. Especially when you are engaging audiences outside of your specialty:
- Here’s the take-home;
- Here’s some background on why;
- So here’s the take home again;
- Now here’s what we can do given this take-home message.
This doubly helps your audience: open with what they need to remember, give some context, then repeat the important information, and invite further discussion. Memorable and engaging.**
3. Design slides that show the audience where to look without telling them where to look.
Clear slides are especially vital if you are presenting through a computer screen:
- show only 1-6 words per slide;
- use arrows and circles to call attention to the important information in graphs or complex images;
- do not expect that everyone will see your cursor movement.
Tell everyone that you will send a more detailed version afterwards. That way you can inform in the moment, then have productive feedback and discussion moving forward.
If you and/or your team could use some tips on how to present effectively through remote meetings, I would be happy to discuss how I could be of assistance:
We are all in this together. Stay safe and healthy out there.
**Note: I followed my own advice with this post. My opening paragraph appeals to “share information clearly.” Then at the beginning of the advice section I say “When you are engaging with audiences outside of your specialty …” then I repeat that exact phrase in sub-section 2 to lead with the take-home message.