Abilia Barraza is the Human Resources Director at Hypothesis. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the distinguishing aspects of Hypothesis is how collaboratively we work together. When you have multiple departments (design, analytics, and project managers) housed under one roof, clear and respectful communication is critical. But it isn’t always easy. All of us regardless of industry have faced some challenges, whether communicating too softly, too harshly, or simply ineffectively. Those challenges extend beyond internal communications and include communications with clients and even with prospects.
For that reason, Hypothesis invited Emily Donahoe from Talk Shop to lead a workshop entitled “Communicating with Impact.” Emily has developed skills for executive presence, efficient messaging, and charismatic communication. Her clients have included, the Estée Lauder Companies, Saatchi & Saatchi, Goldman Sachs, Willis Towers Watson, Team One Advertising, the Women’s Campaign School of Yale University, Farmers Insurance and more. She’s also had clients appear on NBC’s The Today Show, BBC’s The World, NPR’s Talk of the Nation and much more. The workshop was offered as part of our ongoing professional development program that’s available to all our employees.
The training, which spanned 2 days in total, focused on building communication and presentation skills through live exposure. Each of us got up in front of the group to present a tricky situation encountered at work. Over the course of the workshop, Emily coached us on the best practices for communicating effectively and confidently. By the end of the workshop, not only did everyone feel more comfortable presenting to the group, but their points were more succinct and more impactful. Some of the key takeaways from the workshop were how to sound like an expert, the keys to charisma, and how to deal with difficult questions you may not know the answers to.
How to Sound Like an Expert
Credibility is the cornerstone of all effective communication. If clients don’t trust you, your presentation and everything you say will be questioned or even dismissed. One of the biggest mistakes we make when communicating is over-communicating. We tend to think that being exhaustive and covering every angle will demonstrate our competence and expertise, but the exact opposite is true: experts create a few important pre-planned points using the fewest words necessary. Emily did a great job of forcing us to trim our points and even our sentences into the most essential parts only. The difference in quality and credibility was immediately obvious.
The Keys to Charisma
Emily broke down the science of charisma into its components and had us practice different techniques to help build charisma like adding color to our messages through story, rhetoric, humor, and warmth. These techniques, when combined with credibility, not only made our communication more persuasive, but it made it more memorable as well.
Dealing with Difficult Questions
You’re in the middle of a high-stakes presentation and someone from the back asks you a really, really difficult question. Maybe it’s a hyper-technical question about a footnote in a whitepaper in a link in an email that’s still sitting in your inbox, or maybe it’s a question that’s so thoughtful and deep it made you question everything you knew to be true about consumer psychology. Whatever the nature of the question, we’ve all faced—or all will face—this situation at some point.
While we might be tempted to fake our way into an answer to maintain credibility, Emily said that the opposite is true. The best way to deal with difficult questions is by crediting the question and admitting you don’t know the answer, writing it down, and promising an answer within 24 hours. Paradoxically, admitting you don’t know something bolsters your credibility by showing that you’re not afraid to admit what you don’t know.
Armed with those tips and others, we're off to present and persuade! For more details about attending a Communicating with Impact workshop, please contact us. Thanks to Emily Donahoe for the amazing 2 day training session.