Sorry, What Did You Say?

Whether you are running a meeting in the office or sending an email to a client, your focus is to share valuable and important information. Unfortunately, there can be a huge difference between what you believe you’ve communicated and what your audience remembers. As a professional intervening in an expert quality, the last thing you want is people asking you to repeat what you’ve just said. 

First of all, let’s cut the audience some slack. People are never actively trying to ignore communication. There could be a variety of reasons why they are not able to recall information. However, intentional inattention is never one of them. When the audience forgets your message, it could be because they are already mentally drained or experiencing technical issues that affect the good message delivery. Yet more often than not, the audience is not at fault. Here are 4 things you could do to improve your communication style and help people remember information. 

Communication falls into two distinct categories, being synchronous or asynchronous. According to this source, these communication types fulfill different purposes. For instance, synchronous communication means real-time such as asking a work-related question to a coworker. On the other hand, asynchronous communication introduces a time lag between the message and the response. The delay is necessary as it provides plenty of time for your interlocutor to digest the information and come back to you. Choosing the wrong method to convey your message can make it hard to assimilate. 

Time is of the essence

Human beings have a limited attention span. If you organize an important meeting to share new information, you need to consider people’s natural concentration ability. Indeed, according to studies, people can digest information effectively when it is presented in 7 minute chunks. In other words, if your meeting is too long or if you try to share too much over a long period of time, your audience is unlikely to remember anything. Additionally, it’s best practice to time information so that you can capture everyone’s attention. If you say it too early in the meeting, for instance, late participants could miss it. Too late, and people may not be paying attention anymore. Ideally, you want to announce the big news, accompany your audience to the detail of the big news, and finally repeat it once again at the end. 

Don’t mix topics

You can’t kill two birds with one stone. Whether you are sending emails or organizing meetings, you need to stick to one main topic per agenda. Mixing topics that are not related in your communication will lead to confusion for a variety of reasons:

  • The audience doesn’t see a logical link between the different topics, 
  • The audience tends to remember the last thing they’ve heard or read (meaning, they forget the first topic), 
  • The communication lacks structure

You are sharing conflicting information

This can happen because you are discussing a constantly evolving topic. Therefore, yesterday’s audience may have received different information compared to today’s audience. Additionally, you should research each topic ahead. If you don’t understand the message, your audience will soon forget it. 

As a communicator, it is your responsibility to understand how to avoid mistakes that encourage forgetfulness. Making it easy for your audience to understand, remember, and use the information you share begins with you. Do the hard work to bring the message in the clearest and most digestible way to your audience. 

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