We hear it from our clients all the time—the structures within the workplace continue to change, and many organizations are becoming flatter. Knowledge and information are more critical than ever, hierarchies and bureaucracy are recognized as barriers to developing and implementing ideas, and people are increasingly working in project-oriented teams with few clear lines of authority.
This trend toward flatter organizations has been going on for some time. What has become clearer to us is that, in these types of changing environments, communications skills are more important than ever. The skills you learn by becoming an effective presenter can propel you forward in this ever-evolving corporate world. Ideally, in a flatter organization, there are more opportunities for people to step up and shine through great ideas and great initiative.
Winning support for your great ideas requires great communication.
In flatter organizations, people are put into positions in which they have to lead others, over whom they have no explicit authority. Power literally flows in many directions. It’s hard enough to lead people that you supervise—now you have to learn to lead among your peers. Learning to present, defend your ideas—and to convince others to support them—will go a long way, particularly in teams where a clear leader has not been identified.
Effective communication means learning when to speak up, when to shut up and listen, when to ask questions, and how to be more relational. Expressing yourself with confidence, using all of your tools, is a proven way to provide leadership.
Here are a few suggestions for those who want to excel in organizations that welcome innovation and input from all team members:
Always be presenting. Even in informal situations with your co-workers, your ability to win their respect and make sure your ideas are heard is vital. This means being yourself and speaking with confidence. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and trust your own value and expertise. Whenever possible, get people’s attention through POW! statements, and support your ideas with evidence such as metaphors, statistics, stories and quotes.
Focus on benefits. Be sure to communicate the benefits of your idea, approach or concept. You don’t have the authority to insist that people listen to you—you have to woo them by making sure they understand the benefits of supporting you. These can include the benefits to the project, to the team, to customers, the company, and its shareholders.
Communicate often, and in multiple forms. Consider that you are presenting in all communications vehicles, whether you send out a group text or email, speak up during a conference call, or sit in on a meeting. Make your messages consistent, use communicative headlines/subject lines—as opposed to generic ones— to get attention and gain traction. Also, don’t assume that any single message will get through to everyone. If it’s important, keep it coming.
Seek and build trusting two-way relationships. This is easier said than done, but you can work informally and relationally to gain traction for your ideas. Instead of trying to get the entire team on board, approach some of your co-workers individually to engage them in the ideas you are bringing forward, sometimes even getting their added perspective and input to make them better. Having several supporters who can speak up on behalf of your ideas will go a long way.
Remember the fundamentals. Use strong opening statements. Pause to let your co-workers catch up to you. Raise and lower your voice to highlight key phrases, make strong eye connections, and let your natural gestures help you express yourself.
At EMS, our presentation training programs will help you practice techniques and approaches that will dramatically improve your communication skills. Our coaching services will provide you with one-to-one training, feedback, insights and motivation to help you navigate projects, relationships and interpersonal dynamics within your workplace. Let’s talk!