What does the word ‘wedding’ mean to you?

14th May 2024

During a recent workshop, I asked my delegates to write down the one word they thought of when I said the word “wedding”.

What word would you think of?

Well, out of 20 people, we had 11 different replies. Including:

  • Romance
  • Marriage
  • Love
  • Divorce
  • Expensive
  • Bride
  • Crashers…

I then said:

“When we communicate, people often view our message differently than we intended them to. Look how many different ways we viewed just one word. Imagine doing a 20-minute presentation. What’s the probability that your audience will think and act differently than you wanted them to?”

This is what we sometimes call intention and impact:

  • When we communicate, we have a certain intention
  • And this communication will have an impact on our audience
  • But our intention and their impact is often not the same

(I guess that’s why salespeople often say “we were founded in 1922”. Their intention is to convey heritage and safety. Whereas the impact this has on us is “why are you telling me how old you are?”)

There’s only one way to know if you had the impact you intended:

Ask them

In other words, check-in with your audience that they understood your main messages. For example, you could say something like:

  • “I want to make sure I’ve explained things correctly. Please can you tell me what you think my most important points are?”
  • “I’m interested to know what you found most useful about this info. What bits have been the most helpful to you?”
  • “The three most important things here – in my opinion – are X, Y and Z. What do you think?”
  • Etc

As long as you ask in a way that feels comfortable to you and them, doing this only causes good things:

  • If the impact is what you intended, great!
  • If it isn’t, you can say “I’m glad I checked! Because I felt the most important messages were X. What do you think about that?”

Or, you could just say the word “wedding”, with the intention of conveying the word “romance”… and hope that the impact on them isn’t “divorce”!

Action Point

When appropriate today, ask your audience one of the Feedback Questions above. If you like their response, great. If not, reply with “I’m glad I checked…” and then get aligned!

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