How to be an Expert Communicator
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Does the thought of speaking into that microphone terrify you? If so you'd be in the majority of the population. But, despite your fear, public speaking and communication is something that you're going to have to improve. 

The fact is that we live in an increasingly complicated and noisy world, where teams solve complex problems more effectively than talented individuals; and persuasive, clear voices win over badly presented albeit sound reasoning.

However you look at it, effective communication is no longer an optional extra. Indeed, adding expert communication to your T-shaped personal development plan might just be your ticket to future-proofing yourself and gaining success in whatever field you pursue. 

Now, we won't pretend that you'll become an 'expert communicator' by picking up a few mental models, nor will you overcome your public speaking anxiety by the end of this page. Communication is a multifaceted and complex skill that will take work to develop — though you can develop it faster by using Deliberate Practice :). But we digress...

These models alone won't transform your communication but, along with digging deeper and Deliberate Practice, they can frame your approach for different challenges and contexts. 

As you'll see shortly, while each of these models is communication-themed, they are wildly different — essentially addressing very different situations and needs. So dive in and embrace your diverse communication toolkit...

It's not just about the information - it's the context you paint and present around that information that will define how people interpret and judge it. Dive into this model for 10 prompts to get started.

A great place to start, this timeless model draws on Aristotle's key persuasion techniques. Easy to understand, but it will take practice to apply skillfully. As an aside, it's also a reminder to obsess about your audience needs. Click in to the summary for loads of practical tips.

Find yourself in a heated conflict or argument? Here's a Model that you might not have seen. Nonviolent Communication was put into the spotlight by Satya Nadella at Microsoft and empowers you to seek win-win situations. Also, adapt it for presentation to better connect with your audience by addressing their underlying needs, not just what they say they want.

People love stories, think in stories, and are influenced by stories. And, in case you missed the memo, storytelling for business, data analysis and persuasion is crucial. Use this model to structure storytelling around journeys and overcoming adversity — including entrepreneurial stories.

This model has a similar intention to Nonviolent Communication and shares the need to care and demonstrate empathy. The difference is that it also prioritises the need to challenge. It's the art of "giving a damn and pissing people off", often reserved for 1-on-1s but can be applied more broadly in presentations. That said, it's often implemented badly — so click through to the model for tips.

What's that? You work in a fast paced environment where stakeholders would sooner walk out then listen to your hero's journey? Well, for busy, time poor executive meetings or engagements, you might want to look at this core model that consultants use to communicate 'need to know' information fast.

Like we said up front, this post is for 'expert' level exploration. Each model we've discussed is wildly different from one another, by design, because they have totally different intentions.

Their main similarity is that, while each can be applied at a basic level, there's a lot to unpack behind them. 

So how to apply them for best effect?

The trick is to understand your context, audience and goals in each situation, then draw on the communication themed models in your  to establish which approach will be most impactful. 

What do you think? What other models are in your 'expert communication' latticework? Which of these had you used? Which do you intend to try and in what sort of context? 

Let us know in the comments below

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My Notes

  • 332 days ago Neil Von Heupt

    I find the hero's journey a bit predictable nowadays. I tend to create a mental model for every presentation that I do. It's more than just a structure, there's usually a visual structure and a narrative through it (which often has elements of the hero journey and mintos pyramid)(seriously. What is it with pyramid models?!). I even try to think in 3D as a lot of 2D structures are so ... 2 dimensional.