Have you ever walked away from a conversation or meeting saying to yourself, “I wish I would have said…” or “It was so clear in my mind. Why didn’t I say it that way?” or “It really didn’t go very well”? You are not alone. Many leaders struggle with being clear, succinct and to the point in their communication. Try this A-P-R-E-S (Audience, Point, Reason, Evidence, Summary) framework to organize your thoughts and speak with clarity.
1. Audience. 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. If presenting to senior executives, time is limited, so being succinct and factual is crucial.
2. Point. Begin with the key point you want to make. This will help you focus your thoughts and provide clarity to your audience regarding the message you wish to convey.
Example: “Before we spend money from our training budget, we should prioritize our training needs by conducting a company needs analysis.”
3. Reason. Explain why your point is important. Effective, concise communicators focus only on the most relevant reasons and information.
Example: “If we assess our training needs, we can identify if there is an issue that is hindering productivity and performance. Then we can spend the money in a more targeted and responsible way.”
4. Evidence. Give credibility to what you are communicating. State pertinent facts, examples, personal experiences, statistics, data or other information to support your opinion.
Example: “According to the Training Industry Report, the highest priorities for training in terms of allocating resources are increasing productivity, decreasing costs and reducing errors.
5. Summary. Finish up by stating your main point again.
Example: “Therefore in summary, my recommendation is to assess our specific business’ training needs 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 credibly.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-729-0772.