Have you been in one of these situations? (1) You have been asked your opinion at the “big” table during the monthly board meeting; (2) Someone asked you for your opinion on a current topic of concern at the office; or (3) You are mentoring someone, and they ask you for your advice on how to handle a work situation. When you find yourself in that situation, here is a simple template for getting your point across clearly and concisely: Summarize, Expand, Example, Restate. SEER!
Explain in one sentence (if possible) the issue or point. The summary is where you can Find the Lead of the problem. This helps the listener cage their thinking to align with what you tell them. If it is within the current conversation or discussion, you may need little transition. However, add a transition if you want to talk about a completely unrelated or different topic. That way, you can let them know that there is something new that you want to talk about, and ask if they are ready to shift to a new topic.
Then, give a little more information about the topic. It may be some background or the actions and circumstances that led to the current issue. Or, it may explain how the problem came to your attention, why you are bringing this up now, or what the consequences may be if the issue is not dealt with properly.
Storytelling is a vital part of business communication, as described in this Forbes article. People are wired to respond and reflect on stories, and the more personal they are, the more impactful they can be. The example may be hypothetical, and if it is, that should be clear to the listener. Additionally, self-effacing stories are great learning tools, which reminds us that stories that belittle others may not be the best ones to use in delivering a point. They may distract the conversation or bring up other thoughts and emotions in the mind of the listener.
FInally, finish your statement by circling back to the original problem summary. This reminds the listener about what you wanted to talk about. It also makes sure that the story is closed and that it does not become the topic. The restatement focuses all on the problem at hand now, and not on the past.
Practice this technique. Try to do it in very few sentences. Write it out. The example might require a bit more than one sentence, but that is why practice is important. Eventually, you want to deliver a very tight and concise example.
If you browse this website, you will find a speaking technique called PREP – Point, Reason, Example, Point. Look it up – you will see that PREP and SEER are close relatives. PREP is a bit more formal, useful for speaking engagements like a toast, a formal response, or a Q&A session. However, SEER – Summarize, Expand, Example, Restate – is more useful in common work and family situations.
Get Your Point Across, today’s CommLink. Look for more dynamic speaking principles and ideas at P H Tyson & Associates.