In the post titled Three Principles For Effective Communication I shared what I believe are some of the core issues regarding communicating well.
After some reflection, I’d like to narrow it down to one major rule and law every communicator should follow.
At the beginning of every presentation every communicator should think about one thing:
“What question am I trying to answer?”
That’s it. If you have that as your primary starting point, it will give your presentation, sermon, or speech an extreme level of crispness and clearness, which will engage your audience and help them to follow along with what you’re saying.
I think one of the best places to begin this principle is in your title. Let’s look at the title to this post: “The Most Important Rule Every Communicator Should Follow.” In the title, I’m being very clear about what I’m going to address in this post. As a result, this lowers the stress and anxiety of the reader because he/she knows exactly what I’m going to talk about.
Most of the messages that I preach will have similar titles. I just began a series called L.O.V.E. where the title of the first sermon was “It Is Possible To Love Someone Forever?” The follow-up message is titled, “Your Best First Step In Your Relationship.”
By the way, this is no easy work. This is what usually takes me the longest time in preparing my message. I try to struggle and think about “what’s the one major question I’m trying to answer through this message.” Once I figure that question out, the writing flows easily and quickly. And I can deliver the message without having any notes at all, if I want, because I know that at the end of the day, there’s only one major question or issue that I’m trying to answer.
In coaching other leaders in their speaking I always ask them that one question: “what’s the question you’re trying to answer through this sermon?” I ask them to write it down in one sentence for me. If they can’t do that, then it means that they themselves aren’t clear about what they’re going to talk about. They may have an idea or a theme, but they aren’t clear. And if they aren’t clear, neither will the audience be.
And if you’ve ever sat through a presentation that is “all over the place” and hard to follow, it’s because the presenter didn’t take the time to answer that one question.
So what do you think? Does this principle have its limits, or do you think it’s something that can be applied to most styles and forms of communicating?
[image by doberagi]