I have been reading up on effective communication styles recently and one method stuck out to me above all others. I believe this method is particularly applicable to the consulting industry as well as to all other aspects of your life. It is a method that is amazingly simple and can be used when you are trying to communicate a point whether it is an opinion, a conclusion, an argument, a summary, or anything in between. It follows the following structure:
We should do X, because of three key reasons:
- Reason 1
- Reason 2
- Reason 3
In conclusion, we should do X.
Simple, isn’t it? I believe that structuring your communication this way is extremely effective for the following three key reasons:
- It starts with the key message first. This way, anyone listening will immediately know your most important point and what is needed to be done – the three key reasons following onwards are not crucial to the message but are there to support it and to explain the ‘why’. This communication structure ensures that the listener (if short on time) does not even need to continue listening after your first sentence because you have already communicated your key point upfront.
- It is clearly structured and is easy for the listener to follow along. You will find that anyone listening to you communicating in this way will find it difficult to become lost (as long as you keep your reasons concise) in your message, as it shows a clear train of thought and does not jump around.
- It is concise and does not involve communicating anything irrelevant or unnecessary to the key message. This ensures that the listener does not get lost in details that are not important to the overall message. Some people commonly talk about how they went and researched this, read about that, and spoke to this person, mixed in with their key message/conclusion. Usually, the only truly relevant or important message is their conclusion. By following this structure, you remain concise and focussed only on communicating what is necessary.
As a consultant, communicating using the above structure can make a world of difference to the way you interact not only with clients, but with others in your life. It starts with the key message upfront allowing listeners to immediately understand your point, is easy for the listener to follow and is the most concise method of communicating a key message.
Next time you find yourself answering a question from a client or want to make your point, try to structure your thoughts using the above structure – it will not only assist the listener to understand your message, but assist you through embedding greater clarity in your thinking.