When it comes to communication, whether you are speaking to a large audience, selling to an individual, teaching a class or having a conversation with your spouse, I believe that most of us aim at the wrong target.
When you read any book on communication, or if you ask anyone what their goal is for their presentation – they will talk about making it perfect.
They want you to have the right opening, structure the presentation correctly, back up every point, make it engaging, and close in a memorable way. I agree with all of those concepts (in fact I teach them) but I believe we miss the mark if we focus on perfection.
Instead the focus of our communication should be connection. Think about this for a moment. The golden rule of business is that people do business with and refer business to people they know, like and trust. A perfect presentation doesn’t help people know you, like you, or trust you unless you connect.
I have been in thousands of sales situations either one on one or with small groups. I have taught workshops to tens of thousands of people, and I have spoken on stages to audiences as big as 15,000. I don’t think I have ever given a perfect presentation, but my goal is never perfection – it is connection.
So how do you connect? Here are Four Connection Tools:
1. Be Authentic
When we are real with people, they are typically real with us. I am amazed by how many people try and put on a front or play a part when they are speaking or presenting, and we all have internal “phony-detectors” that cause us to turn off from these people. Don’t try to be someone you are not, or what you think you they want. Be confident in who you are, it’s the only way to connect.
2. Be Curious
Connection only comes when you engage the people you are talking to and make them part of the conversation. When you are naturally curious to learn about others and get to know them, it is an endearing quality. Learn to ask great questions that open people up and allow them to be a participant in the conversation, rather than a spectator to your presentation.
3. Really Listen
The skill of listening is something that very few people possess. I know that I am as guilty as the next guy. (just ask my wife) But learning to really listen to others so that they feel understood and validated will create the kind of connection that we are seeking.
4. Tell Stories
People love stories. But more importantly stories evoke emotion in people that creates connection to the message of the story as well as the messenger. (that is you) If you are communicating only dry, boring facts, without any emotional connecter (a story) you will not create connection. Stories are a great tool to bring humor, reality and human connection into any communication.
In all of your communication, don’t miss the mark. The goal is connection, not perfection.