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Talk to anyone you like and they will tell you that a major challenge they face in today’s world of business is dealing with information. There is ever so much information in use, much of it we must admit quite useless, that people are getting swamped by the information overload.

The young manager’s position in the middle of the hierarchy made her a channel for lateral, upward and downward communication. She asked me for a few tips on how to present information.

Here are 7 Steps to Presenting Information:

  1. Consider what you want to present and why: Who’s your target audience? What do they already know? When will you communicate to them, place, time etc.
  2. Gather thoughts on what you want to say: A few minutes planning is well worth the extra effort. Don’t blurt out everything you have to say about the topic. See things from the audience’s point of view.
  3. Arrange the information in a logical order, based on the needs of their audience, not on your own needs: As is well said, “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear”.
  4. Begin by explaining why you are passing this information and explain the key points: Not “ There’s so much to do, guys” but“ The project is at a crucial phase for the next 2 weeks. Many customer issues need to be resolved by this time. I shall give you my understanding on the priorities and then get your feedback to arrive at an action plan”.
  5. Support the main points with examples and details to enhance audience understanding: Examples are the best way to explain concepts and illustrate points. Here’s one: “Speaking of getting facts right, I take you back to what happened last month. We assumed there was no change in the customer’s requirements. We found out there were changes much later on causing all of us expensive and frustrating re-work”.
  6. Observe the audience’s reactions and make judgments about levels of understanding and interest: Observe their body language even as you speak. Are they attentive, interested, bored, spaced out? You have to make a call on when you feel they have understood your message. This call is largely made on the basis of your judgment of their understanding on sensing their reactions.
  7. Let your audience ask questions and clarifications: Important to give the audience an opportunity to clarify doubts by asking questions. I have found that many managers in a tearing hurry to get on with it, miss this vital step. It leaves doubts in the minds of people which leads to problems later on. Develop an environment where it is considered perfectly alright to ask. Everyone has doubts. Many just don’t voice them.

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This is the 98 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.