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On Leadership: Get your point across with this communication framework

Pam Solberg-Tapper

Have you ever walked away from a conversation or meeting asking yourself "It was so clear in my head, why didn't I say it that way?" "I can't believe I kept rambling on" or "It really didn't go very well"? You are not alone because this is not uncommon. Many leaders struggle with being clear, succinct and to the point in their communication. Try this A-P-R-E-C (Audience, Point, Reason, Evidence, Conclusion) framework to organize your thoughts, speak concisely and with clarity.

1. Audience — Determine who are you talking to and what do they need to know? If you are speaking to employees and peers, you will want to provide more details and stories. If presenting to senior executives, time is limited so being succinct is crucial.

2. Point — Begin with the key point you want to make. This will help you focus your thoughts and help you avoid getting off the message you wish to convey.

Example: "Before we spend our money from our training budget, we should prioritize our training needs to assure they align with our company's goals."

3. Reason — Explain why your point is important. Effective, concise communicators focus only on the most relevant reasons or information.

Example: "If we thoroughly assess our training needs, we can identify if there is an issue that is hindering productivity and performance. We can then spend the money in a more targeted and responsible way."

4. Evidence — Give rationale to support your point and lend credibility to what you are communicating. State relevant facts, examples, personal experiences, statistics, data or other information to show you are contributing more than just your opinion.

Example: "According to a recent Forbes article, the biggest mistake leaders make is lack of planning and alignment of training to specific company goals. As a result, resources such as time and money are wasted and training efforts do not reach their full potential."

5. Conclusion — Finish up by stating your main point again.

Example: "So, to avoid costly mistakes, my recommendation is to assess our training priorities to assure they align with our company goals before we utilize our financial resources."

Using this five-step framework, will give you a structure for your communication that will help you come across clearly, concisely and professionally.

Pam Solberg-Tapper, president of Coach for Success Inc., is a Duluth-based executive coach, professional speaker and adventure marathoner. For questions or to submit questions or ideas for future columns, please contact her at pam@coachforsuccess.com or 218-729-0772.

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