The other week, a guest speaker at RPCN was Brian Kane, leader of Three Lakes Communication. His talk was about communications – how our messages work well and sometimes how our messages backfire.

Brian often tells us; “It is not what you say, but what people hear that counts.” I will bet you can reflect on situations where you thought you had said something only to find out that it was misunderstood by the other person.

Sometimes we can figure out our communication was misunderstood and can correct it. Sometimes, we don’t know until it is too late.

According to Brian, a person’s initial impression of you is based on:

  • 55% depends on looks and body language
  • 38% on how you say it
  • 7% on what you say

Most of what you say is forgotten; approximately 20% of what you communicate may stay with your audience for a longer period of time (more than 4 days). Those statistics don’t bode well for leaders, managers or trainers who want a message to stick with their team or audience.

Here are Brain’s top ten common messaging mistakes that he sees in everyday communication:

  1. You do not present yourself appropriately. You do not have an effective elevator speech to communicate who you are and what you do or want to do. This is especially true for small business owners, people who are actively conducting a job search or anyone that wants to impress someone inside their company. You have to be prepared to do a little self-promotion.
  2. You are inarticulate. How many times do you strain to hear what someone is saying because they are talking too fast or unclear. One example that is a pet peeve of mine is when someone leaves a phone message with their phone number and rattles it off so quickly that I cannot decipher it. No surprise when a phone call is not returned!
  3. You don’t credential yourself. It is important to be clear about who you are and what your experience is. For example, do you have authority, such as a book or title? This is not the time to be shy about what you do and what you have accomplished.
  4. You assume too much. How do you know if people interpret what you are saying? Ask them.
  5. You fail to listen. Instead of telling people, ask questions. One great question to pose is: What is their biggest challenge?
  6. You don’t understand who your audience is. Going in unprepared with some knowledge of the demographics, interests, skill level and learning style can turn a great presentation into a flop.
  7. You don’t know your audience – do I know them? If the subject is controversial, do I know what the audience self-interests are on the topic? Are you prepared to address what might be the underlying issues?
  8. Your message lacks clarity. Conflicting messages about the same topic will illicit confusion. How can you be clearer about the subject? Think about how to say the same thing differently and consistently.
  9. You are unwilling to change your approach or message. It is easy to deliver a message, presentation or training in our own preferred style of communicating. Our audience though is made up of many different communication styles. Consider changing your style to meet the needs of the audience. Test for understanding and make adjustments as needed.
  10. You give up too quickly. Here is that big “R” word: Rejection. How do you deal with it? Have you thought that rejection is the result of failing to set a clear objective?

Think about how you might be able to correct some of those messaging mistakes in your every day communication. If you would like to know more or want to have a framework to be more effective in your communication style , my next post will help you create the capacity for others to hear your message – more insights from Brian Kane along with my commentary.

A bit about Brian…

Brian Kane blends skills and experience that can create opportunities for people to make a difference. As a listener and mentor, he has enabled people to clarify their goals and launch projects that achieve concrete results. In the last 16 years, this approach garnered over $17 million in tangible community improvements and programs, developed hundreds of community leaders, and generated enormous media attention. His work has been lauded as a “model” in 64 Democrat & Chronicle newspaper editorials. Now, as the leader of Three Lakes Communication, Brian can noticeably improve how well your message is received. It’s not what you say but what people hear that counts.