Is this the easiest way to quicker, better communications?

22nd September 2015

Today, you’ll receive emails you find pointless or boring.

You might well attend a couple of meetings that don’t achieve much. Or, indeed, anything.

And you’ll probably sit through someone’s presentation, and think “well, that could’ve been much quicker. And better.”

We see communications like this all the time.

So, what’s the easiest way to quicker, better communications?

Well, one is to prepare by scripting your perfect ending. In other words, know exactly what you hope to say at the end of the communication, assuming it’s gone well.

Because, once you have absolute clarity about what you want to happen at the end, you make sure everything before that is geared to achieving this desired ending. Just like a child doing a maze puzzle – the quickest way is to start at the end and work backwards.

Here’s a simple example. Imagine you’re having a meeting with a colleague later today, and you visualise the last couple of minutes going like this…

You: I’m conscious of time; so let’s agree our next steps
     Them: OK
You: I’ll do actions X and Y. You OK doing Z?
     Them: Of course
You: Great. And when shall we meet again, to progress things further?
     Them: [suggest a date]
You: Great. Bye.
     Them: Bye

Now, of course, it’s much easier and quicker to prepare your content. You now know you only need to include:

  • Why they will – what they need to hear, so they want actions X, Y, Z to happen
  • Why they won’t – what they need to hear, to overcome any concerns you/they have about X, Y, Z
  • Start – what’s the best way to start the communication, so the first impression maximises your chance of it working?

This approach works well for any type of communication:

  • Got a presentation? Be crystal clear on the ending/last slide, then work backwards to create your content
  • Writing an email? Create the bottom paragraph first, then insert the rest above it
  • Planning for a meeting? As in the above example, visualise what the final couple of minutes will look like, and then only include the agenda items you need, to ensure these two minutes happen!

Like a child mastering how to complete maze puzzles, once you start preparing communications like this, you’ll never use the more traditional approaches again. After all, “what slides have I got? Let’s see which ones I can shoe-horn in” doesn’t tend to lead to the same results!

Action Point

For your most important communication today, start by preparing how you want it to end – your final sentence, discussion topic, slide etc.

Then, work backwards from there to include the minimal content you need, to achieve this perfect ending.

And if you want a whole day of learning from companies and people who’ve mastered this technique – so you can learn and apply them to all the writing and speaking you do – join Drayton Bird and me at the Winston Churchill War Rooms on 20 October. We guarantee it will change the way you communicate. Here’s how.

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