Three little words that can enhance your next presentation (or email, meeting, conversation, or basically any communication where you want to make an impact)
Have you suffered through meetings that seem to have no point− no agenda, no required outcomes and no time management? These meetings can be terribly frustrating and ineffective. What about conferences, where the keynote speaker seems to drone on with no order or flow in their presentation making it hard for the listeners to fully receive the intended message? And what about that person who tries to explain to you at a cocktail party what it is that their company does and your eyes start to glaze over as you begin searching for an exit?
There really is a simple fix for these communication faux pas using these three simple, yet dynamic words: WHAT, WHY & HOW.
At McKenzie Pitch Partners, we encourage our clients to adopt the WHAT, WHY, HOW framework to strengthen their communication effectiveness by applying it in the following three areas:
Planning – Organizing your thoughts prior to a meeting or presentation to ensure you achieve the outcomes you want
Managing Expectations – Preparing your audience for the messages that you want them to receive
Educating –Explaining content in a way that is memorable and easy to understand
Let’s take a closer look at each area and see how following this simple framework can help.
The importance of planning cannot be overstated. Let’s use a hypothetical situation: you have a very important client Business Review coming up and you have asked for a team meeting to get a solid understanding of the current status of the client’s projects. To get the most out of the team meeting, we suggest taking a few minutes to plan:
What is the team meeting about? Project Status Reporting
Why do you want to have the meeting (what is the purpose)? Need to get an update ready for the upcoming business review
How are you going to accomplish this? By covering the following:
1. Status of all projects 2. Identify any challenges or areas of concern 3. Recommendations going forward
It’s not rocket science, but it certainly helps to keep you focused. This is not only handy when planning for a meeting; consider using this framework when you anticipate having a difficult conversation with someone – maybe your boss or your partner. By spending a little time in advance considering the What, Why and How of your conversation, the more likely you will have a positive, productive experience.
2. Managing Expectations
The second area where we like to use this simple framework is in managing expectations. As the planning in the above example is about helping you manage what you want to accomplish or want to say, managing expectations helps to prepare the listener for what they are going to hear. For example, before every client engagement or meeting, we encourage our clients to send what we refer to as a Managing Expectations email. The intent of the email is to prepare your client for the meeting to ensure that everything that needs to be covered will be covered. Remember those meandering meetings with no agenda and no outcomes? Applying What, Why, How at the onset helps you keep your meeting on track. You can even use your Managing Expectations email to set the agenda for the meeting using your “How”.
Here is an example of Managing Expectations email for a client Business Review:
By sending the above email in advance, using WHAT, WHY, HOW, you have prepared the “listener” for what they can expect during the Business Review.
The final area we want to explore is ‘Educating’. What, Why, How, is an easy formula to use to educate or inform. Remember the cocktail party scenario above, where that person was off on tangents trying to describe their business? Using What, Why, How is a simple way to clearly and concisely communicate what it is that you do. Let’s use McKenzie Pitch Partners as an example: if someone from MPP is at a cocktail party and asked what they do, this is how they would respond using What, Why, How:
McKenzie Pitch Partners is a pitch consultancy (what). Put quite simply, we help our clients win business (why). To do this we offer outcome-focused consulting which includes keynotes and workshops, instituting cultural change and consulting on specific high-stakes pitches (how).
Pretty straightforward and to the point. No meandering and going off on tangents. Of course, it sets the listener up to ask more questions.
So, as you can see, there really is a simple fix for communication faux pas. The next time you want to make an impact in your communication, use these three simple, yet dynamic words:
WHAT, WHY & HOW.