Watch the recorded webinar “Impromptu Communication in a Virtual World”
One of the biggest challenges in business is to deliver clear, persuasive messages with little or no preparation. But it’s easy with a few simple templates and a little practice.
Template 1: Three Simple Points.
This template works great when you have a little time to prepare.
Let’s say that you’ve been asked to provide an update on progress implementing an enterprise software platform. You have 15 minutes to prepare. On a Post-It note write the “Three Simple Points” that you want to make. You get six words per point. Make each point meaty. “We’re meeting the budget” is meaty. “Budget” is not meaty.
In the meeting, you’ll state the three points and then you’ll go into each one. So, it’ll sound like this:
- We’re meeting the budget.
- We’re two weeks behind schedule.
- We need to expand the scope to accounting.
So, let’s talk about the first point, we’re on budget. Blah. Blah. Blah.
So, let’s talk about the second point, we’re behind schedule. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Now for the last point, expanding to including accounting. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Before you go into your meeting, practice saying the three points a couple of times. When you go into the meeting you’ll sound smooth.
Template 2: Three Questions.
This template is also great when you have 10-15 minutes to prepare.
It’s based on the idea that the best presentations just answer your audience’s key questions. You prepare by asking yourself “What are the three questions my listeners would most likely ask?” Better yet, ask someone who knows your audience what are the three most important questions that they want answered? Use those three questions as your outline.
It’ll sound like this:
“On the topic of our new distribution system, I understand that there are three questions you’re most interested in:
- “How fast will it deliver items to the stores?”
- “How long before it’s done?”
- “Will I need to change how I accept shipments at the stores?”
You might even write the three questions on a whiteboard or flip chart. Then you’ll just go through the questions and answer them as simply as possible.
Template 3: BL+3Q
This is for when you have no time at all to prepare. It’s completely impromptu. Perhaps you’re called on to update the team on a project. You have nothing prepared. You want to lay out your message with a simple story, not verbal vomit.
What do you do?
Rely on our template, BL+3Q.
“BL” stands for Bottom line. “3Q” stands for three questions.
For the “Bottom Line” statement, say “It’s going well,” “It’s going poorly,” or “It’s going well, but we’re having issues.” So just pick one of the three. Don’t overthink it.
For the three questions, you’ll have to adapt this to your situation. But most project updates messages will work by answering these three: “What’s happened so far?” “What are the challenges?” “What are we doing to address the challenges?”
So, here’s what you’ll say,
It’s going well, but we’re having a few issues. If it’s ok, I’d like to talk about
- What’s happened so far?
- What are the challenges we’re facing?
- What are we doing about those challenges?
Then you’ll talk about each question in logical order. Even though you’re not prepared, you’ll sound smooth.
Joey Asher has worked with thousands of business people helping them learn how to communicate in a way that connects with clients. His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations” is available now. He is also the author three previous books including “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition”, “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.”