Be honest, did you almost pass on reading this article because you thought “this doesn’t apply to me, I’m not that person”? Well, keep reading because delivering your message with style doesn’t mean speaking with pizzazz or using gimmicks, it means making a point with confidence, command, elegance, and relevance. No doubt, you can be that person!
Before we go any further, let’s deconstruct the words “message” and “style.”
Message is a word with so many applications. So let’s streamline this for the conference room. In other words, let’s talk about what a message is when you’re participating in a meeting or delivering a presentation. In these venues, a message is a key point. It conveys significance or value. A message captures or summarizes – like a concluding statement does – the importance of what you’re sharing. And a message is one sentence, one repeatable, reinforce-able, retainable sentence.
Style speaks to memorability, or the impression you make. Frankly, it doesn’t matter your age or stage of career, making a good impression matters every day (or as I like to say, executive presence never gets a day off!). Style is that part of you – whether it’s calm confidence, commanding presence, elegant fluency, or the ability to be relevant – that sticks with audiences. Style is different for everyone, it’s a personal strength worth noting and nurturing.
Given those definitions as a baseline, here are 6 strategies for delivering your message with style:
1. Be clear on your message
This is actually the work of a good communicator – being able to look at a bundle of information you need to share in a meeting or presentation and packaging it inside of a key point. If you need to be informative, then your message will sound a lot like a summary statement. If you need to be persuasive, then your message will convey benefit or value to your audience. By you doing the work to identify your message, it takes the work off of other people to figure out what you’re conveying – and leaves the impression that you are sharp, in control, and on point.
Know your facts but limit how many you deliver in support of your message. It’s important to make the distinction between a message and information. Information merely supports, as evidence, a key point or message. Prioritize your facts and information, use them to back up a message, and then move on. TMI is a killer. People who try and share every fact and figure come off as either pedantic and arrogant or insecure and rambling. You want to come off as commanding and relevant.
3. Set context and expectations
I know an executive coach who, when dealing with her clients’ interpersonal communication issues, often tells them to “label the conversation.” By this, she is suggesting that the speaker tell their audience what’s coming, what kind of a conversation is about to begin. Will it be difficult, positive, challenging? Does a decision need to be made or does a robust discussion need to ensue? Do the same when you’re about to deliver a message. It will sound something like this: “what I’m about to share is something for us to consider as we go through this process” or “I’m here to tell you about our ideas and capabilities and by the end, I hope to have earned your confidence.”
4. Take the high road
Always. If and when you find yourself on the receiving end of criticism or disagreement, you must maintain composure and stay above the fray. Here’s a #protip for remaining gracious while experiencing conflict or confrontation: There is always a common goal, something that both parties agree on. That’s your go-to point for disarming the conflict and taking the high road. State the shared goal, acknowledge that there’s a difference of opinion, and stay positive and respectful while you deliver your message. Now that’s style!
5. Look the part
Okay, so here’s where we talk about executive presence. Let me just say yes, people are looking at you and sizing you up. All the time. It just happens. It’s a thing we humans do. It may not even be conscious or intentional. Your appearance sends a non-verbal message, so it matters also. Model yourself after someone you admire, use a style consultant, or ask a friend. Just be sure to look the part.
6. Ignore the introvert/extrovert conundrum
And finally, let’s revisit what might have caused you to pause before reading this article in the first place. You saw the words “delivering your message with style” and you thought, that’s never going to be me, I’m an introvert, not an extrovert. Well, of course it’s you. Author Susan Cain, in her book Quiet, dispels the myths of introverts and reveals their value especially in the workplace. The styles of introverts and extroverts will naturally be different, but each has strengths they can use to make themselves and their points heard and remembered.
Ultimately, an authentic representation of yourself whilst following a carefully thought-out framework will improve your message and style tenfold. And each time you take the stage, the delivery will only get better and better.