Sunday 23 March 2014

Learning to communicate

I like to think I am pretty good at communicating, but over the last week or two, I have really learned something new - something that can be summed up as Assert, then Justify. The idea is to be crystal clear from the outset about the purpose of the communication, and state that.

My preferred style, which works well with groups or in one-to-one conversations, is a narrative approach. I introduce a theme, develop and explore it, and reach some kind of conclusion.

However, feedback has been converging on me from different directions. This is not always the style to use.

So on the one hand, Andrew Derrington, who has been giving me feedback on my book, has got me to re-write a chapter using this approach.  I had written it as a set of case studies, from which I assumed the intelligent reader would be able to derive some learning.

He has persuaded me to try writing a proper introduction to the chapter, in which I give the reader a preview of what is covered and why, therefore, the reader should bother to go any further.  Likewise, he has go me to write a proper summary at the end, reminding the reader of the key learning points.

I have to say, the chapter is much better now: I think he is right.

Also, working with Karen Ainley of Mosaic, this week, I got very similar feedback.  We did a radio interview, and as usual I told a good story. She was very positive in her feedback about my narrative style and so on, but said the same thing: I needed to give listeners a reason to listen from the very start: what am I going to say that is interesting.

So I am going to work hard on this: firstly thinking much more consciously about which approach to use when, and secondly to practice Assert, then Justify until it becomes as comfortable part of my repertoire as telling a good story.

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