Every Tuesday, sales expert Andy Bounds shares his top tips to improve your sales and communications. This week’s is…
Do your summaries make people listen more or less?
People often switch off when they hear the word “Summary”. Don’t believe me? Watch the audience’s body language next time you hear a presenter say it. They often mentally (sometimes physically) start packing up to leave.
There are two main reasons for this:
• Summaries repeat key points. So, the audience knows they’ve already heard what the speaker is about to say
• The word “Summary” can trigger an instant association with “Great – they’ve nearly finished. I can do my next diary appointment very shortly”, and their minds go to that.
Another problem with the word “Summary” is that it re-inforces a common problem with communication: namely, that people think a communication’s ‘job’ is to transfer understanding. It isn’t. The communication’s job is to cause people to do/feel something.
The word “Summary” (and even moreso “Conclusion”) suggests something has ended. And yes, the communication has ended. But the main thing – the communication’s impact – hasn’t even started yet.
I had this idea – about “Summary” not being a good ending – a few years ago. And, now that I’m looking for it, have watched thousands of audiences mentally leave the room upon hearing it. I’ve also worked on hundreds of presentations where an improved ending has led to far greater success than the presenter had previously had. For instance, instead of ‘Summary’, you could say:
• To move things forward
• The best way for us to build momentum
• Our next steps
With communication, it’s always critical to remember that it’s not what you say, it’s what you cause. And a future-focused ending helps ensure you cause what you want to.
Action point (ie not a summary!)
Review a recent presentation’s last slide. Was the title retrospective (“Summary”/”Conclusion”) or future-focused (“Next steps”)?
If the former, change it next presentation, and see how it transforms your audience’s – and your – focus
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Emma Merry(PA): +44 (0) 7900 217 929
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