Okay, so we’ve all sat in rooms and endured speakers who ramble, never get to the point, are hard to follow, don’t seem sharp or prepared, give way too much background, or all of the above. Right? And why? Why are we so willing to be so polite? Why do we enable the complacency and mediocrity and lack of awareness of others who speak and present to us . . . I bet if we had a remote control, we’d switch to another speaker!

We’re polite about it because we empathize. There, but for the grace of God, go I; it could just as easily be me up there; I’m awful too, I hate it, I’m the worst; this poor guy, better him than me. Not true! Or, it certainly doesn’t have to be true! Because this bad-speaker/enabling-audience phenomenon is soooo unnecessary, I want to offer a nugget of advice about “communications packaging” that might help you . . . this will certainly heighten your awareness of where other speakers and presenters go wrong, but it will also give you a little bit of a guideline to improve your own communications.

So, here goes: Package your communications around messages versus information. Messages are statements that make a point, that do a job like persuading or motivating or educating. Messages are verbal takeaways from a talk, they are memorable. Information is the detail or data or examples that back up and support a message. Granted, some information may be so important that it has to take center stage. In that case, fine, then it is the message and it probably comes with some supporting info of its own. But 99.9% of the time, you will find that what you’re seeing with the rambler, the never-gets-to-the-point speaker, the unprepared-TMI-presenter is probably an information dump without any packaging around it!

Think food chain. Messages are higher on the communications food chain than information. The next time you’re preparing a talk, you should test yourself and ask, am I leading with just a bunch of info, or am I leading with a message and then backing it up with info? Trust me, you are salvageable, and you will be more effective, with just a few simple clicks of the keyboard. Which is a lot better than your audience wanting to get rid of you with a few simple clicks of the remote!

Beth Levine