By Project Nation Guest Author, Namaan Mian, COO at Management Consulted
If you ask anyone in the space (even on Indeed!) you’ll find that one the most important skills for consultants is the ability to communicate effectively. If you cannot influence without formal authority, you won’t make a very good consultant. The whole name of the game is to gain stakeholder buy-in and motivate action, not be stuck in an endless loop of meetings.
Do you ever feel like you’re talking to a wall during a meeting or when speaking to a client? How can you ensure your point is getting across while also keeping your audience engaged? Having the right communication framework is essential to captivate your audience by communicating the right message at the right time. In this blog, I am going to touch on a key principle that will help you drive action from top stakeholders and increase your influence in the process.
What if I told you that there’s a better way to create and present your information? One that will drive action and get you to the core part of the conversation right away? There is, and it’s a pyramidal framework that will change the way you communicate.
What is this pyramidal structure?
You have 10 seconds to capture your audience’s attention. How do you communicate the right message, at the right time, for the right stakeholder to keep them engaged? No matter the medium of your presentation—whether a client-facing slide deck, an internal meeting, or an email—the structure of your story is critical to help you get your point across clearly and effectively.
The Three Parts of a Pyramidal Communication Structure
Lead with your key takeaway and don’t bury the lead! Engage your audience by telling them right up front what you want them to do or believe. Most of you already have built trust with your audience—so leverage that trust to lead with a strong message, understanding that you’ll back it up shortly.
You shouldn't just lead with the key takeaway in your communication. It should be the first thing you identify before conducting analysis, assigning workstreams, and building out the rest of the story. Why? Leading with a hypothesis brings focus and clarity to your analysis. Most times, your initial assertion will be disproven as you begin your project activities. That’s okay! Understanding which takeaways don’t belong is valuable to help you identify message does belong, and this hypothesis-driven approach helps you do it faster.
The next layer of this pyramidal structure exists to “prove” your assertion. What does your audience need to believe to act on the takeaway you’ve presented? The “arguments” you develop become the chapters of your story, and when taken together, should cause your audience to buy in to the assertion. Ideally, for a 60-minute meeting, you’ll have 3 argument chapters (more on that in our live session!). Are there more arguments to choose from? Absolutely. But your job is to curate a story that doesn’t communicate everything, but the right things.
Live Webinar September 29, 11a.m. ET
Close the Gap: Strategies to Help Organizations Communicate More Effectively
The data you include inside a presentation or piece of written communication should support the argument “chapter” it belongs to. Once you get down to the data layer (e.g., the slides of your presentation) you display the out-substantiating evidence behind your arguments. This layer of your story also demands a lot of curation and intentionality—which data points best prove your arguments? And how can you connect them to tell a seamless, narrative story?
The Concept as a Whole
Utilizing a pyramidal communication structure means that you start with the end in mind. Give your conclusion or answer first, follow it up with your main points, and then include the data points in each chapter that best supports each one.
The best feature of this approach is that you lead with the most important part of your story and reinforce it only with necessary messaging. This concept cuts out the fluff and focuses your audience on deciding whether to act on or believe your key takeaway. You’ll lessen the confusion, shorten meetings, and motive action from your stakeholders. Talk about a win-win-win!
Even if you’re not communicating with executives, use this approach to maximize the time you have to with stakeholders to get to the part of the conversation you really want to engage in. If the stakeholder wants more details, they’ll ask! Overall, you’ll be giving your audience clarity upfront and help drive the conversation forward to gain buy-in and motivate action.
Learn More to Improve Your Communication
I’ve partnered with Deltek for an upcoming webinar to introduce a communication framework through clear teaching and engaging exercises that will help improve your persuasion abilities and professional influence. Join me on Thursday, September 29th at 11am ET when I will present strategies to more effectively influence internal stakeholders, win more business, increase engagement through better story curation, and better use data to drive the conversation and get the results you want.
About the Author
Namaan Mian, COO at Management Consulted, has developed strategic partnerships building the #1 worldwide community for consultants. Namaan manages the global team, leads delivery of the corporate training programming, partners with consulting firms to help them fill job openings, and spearheads business development efforts. .
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