person giving a presentation to coworkers

How To Be A Successful Communicator

Introducing Tim Pollard’s The Compelling Communicator

If you go skydiving, there’s a 99.95% chance that you’ll land safely. When you have a conversation or a presentation with a client, are you landing your ideas that often? 

Probably not. Tim Pollard’s book The Compelling Communicator discusses the common mistakes people make when communicating and how to use science to master exceptional presentation design.

Everyone knows that strong communication is important, but you might not realize that your communication can impact how your team and your clients perceive you. Numbers don’t lie. Check out these statistics from pages 18-21 of The Compelling Communicator:

people sitting around a table communicating with each other

  • When a leader or senior executive delivers a poor presentation, how does that affect your perception of their overall leadership ability?
    • 50% said a moderate negative impact
    • 33% said a significant impact
  • When a leader or senior executive delivers a poor presentation, how does that affect your perception of their critical thinking/analytical skills?
    • 48% said a moderate negative impact
    • 26% said a significant negative impact
  • When a person more junior than yourself (or a direct report) delivers a poor presentation, how does that affect your perception of their future potential/promotion potential?
    • 38% said a small negative impact
    • 46% said a moderate negative impact

The quality of your presentations and daily communications matter significantly. So, how do you improve?

Ideas Versus Data

The key to being a successful communicator, Pollard explains, is to connect with the “left-brain” and the “right-brain” of the audience. The concept of analytical thinking being connected with the left-brain and creative thinking being connected with the right-brain is something many of us are familiar with. 

If your presentations are completely about data and facts, then you’re only connecting with the analytical aspect of your audience’s brains. No matter how important you think those statistics are, graphs don’t usually make people feel anything. 

Pictures, on the other hand, have a way of appealing to our emotions. In fact, these are more likely to leave an impact on your viewers given that we tend to respond to emotion more often than analytics or critical thinking.

half a lightbulb and half a brain

With so many options to illustrate information, it’s important to choose one that’s more memorable for your audience. Lists of bullet points and long powerpoints are not the answer. You have to show your audience the ideas.

Though many people decide if a presentation or conversation is good based on the delivery (eye contact, posture, etc.), the most crucial thing is that your audience remembers the big ideas you’re trying to convey. This all comes back to precision within your design. 

Pollard describes how the human brain is much better at storing ideas than facts or data. The best way to ensure that your communication is idea-based and well-remembered is to start with the purpose behind what you’re trying to communicate. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What does your business provide that others cannot? This is important to establish early on. 

To communicate and execute your purpose, there are a few steps you can take. 

Next Steps You Can Take to Success

Pollard designed a communication model that has the audience’s problem that you’re trying to solve at the center. His model is called the Carbon Atom because it has six parts surrounding the audience’s problem:

Getting the Right Content

  1. Selection
  2. Simplification

Getting the Right Sequence

  1. Sequence
  2. Initial Engagement

Getting the Right Engagement

  1. Whole Person Engagement
  2. Supporting Materials

This method is proven to have drastic positive results in a variety of different businesses. When it comes to building your content, you need to focus on the action that you’re wanting your audience to take, whether it’s purchasing a good or service or signing a contract.

To organize your thoughts, you should ask yourself these three fundamental questions, courtesy of Tim Pollard:

  1. “As a result of this presentation, what do I want my audience to do?”
  2. “What does my audience need to believe in order to take the action I want them to take?”
  3. “What leads to insight?”

Becoming a Successful Communicator

Action is preceded by belief, and belief is preceded by insight. Data and illustration lead to knowledge which leads to insight (which leads to beliefs and actions). This model helps you recognize that you only need a few hard-hitting data points that clearly lead to your desired beliefs in order to succeed. Death by PowerPoint is a very real threat, and so is Death by Too Much Data.

Talk to your team about how you’re communicating with clients and how you can improve your communication to be more successful. It wouldn’t hurt to check out The Compelling Communicator for yourself, too. If you use these tools and apply these tactics to your approach to communication, you’ll be a successful communicator in no time.

The Modthink team operates on an agile methodology, which allows us to ensure effective communication through daily scrum meetings. We are constantly communicating with our clients and ensuring there aren’t any roadblocks preventing our clients’ success. We also prioritize communication through graphic design, content, paid media, thought leadership, social media, website design, and search engine optimization. Heard enough? Ready to work with us? Let’s talk.

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