Tuesday, June 23, 2015

4 Ways to Convey Your Message More Clearly

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of what people are trying, but not succeeding, to convey to others. They complain: “I tried to tell him…” (How to do that right. Not to do that. It wasn’t a good idea. This person was trouble, etc.) And, they think it is the fault of the person they tried to tell, for not listening.  However, when I ask how they tried to convey their message, I find sometimes the problem wasn't with the audience. Instead, it may be with the person “trying” to convey their message, idea, warning, or lesson.

You’ve seen this if you’ve ever watched someone trying to teach a person or class that’s just not getting it. You can spot when and where they’ve lost the audience. Perhaps they said one thing, but meant to say something else. Maybe they went too fast and someone couldn’t keep up or too slow and they got bored. Maybe the class completely misunderstood what was being conveyed. Maybe they didn’t have the foundation to grasp the concept or idea.  Maybe they just didn’t explain clearly or didn’t wait until the audience was focused and ready to receive the information.

Here’s the thing, if you want to be understood, it takes more work than just talking at your audience. There are some ways you can convey your message more clearly. This is important in general, but especially important for teachers to do effectively. Here are four strategies to keep in mind.

  1. Provide an example
    When you explain something it is much easier to understand with an example.  Share your message and provide an example.  
  2. Refer to the source
    If you are talking about a chapter, article, paper, video, etc., provide your audience with the source to review.  This ensures you are on the same page.
  3. Check for understanding
    If you want to be sure someone understands you, ask them to explain the concept back to you. If they do so correctly, great. They understand. If not, clarify.
  4. Ask for feedback
    Do those you are talking to agree, disagree, have a different take or questions? Find out and discuss.  

What do you think? What do you do to ensure you are clearly conveying a message, idea, or lesson? Have you experienced someone saying they tried to tell you something that didn’t come through? What could have been done to more clearly convey the message?

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