How to Communicate Effectively | Intention

Posted on April 15th, 2016 by David Lewis

You are the subject matter expert. You spent hours preparing your content and putting them on slides. The big day comes and you deliver your message. The audience responds with crickets, blank stares, even a yawn.

It happens in meeting rooms, corner offices and cubicles time and again. Unfortunately, most business professionals (at all levels) don’t consider what they want their audience to do or feel after hearing their message, and, more importantly, how to deliver their message with every fiber of their body to achieve that reaction.

We believe the burden of engagement is always on the speaker, regardless of whether you’re running a meeting, presenting material or delivering a story, and the key for how to communicate effectively is the delivery of your message – your intention.

As a communicator, you must have a specific objective in mind—something you need to accomplish—in every business interaction if you hope to impact and move your audience. Second, you must choose an intention, a strong and specific action you will activate in pursuit of that clear and tangible objective. A strong intention behind your words will fuel the emotion of your delivery.

How to Communicate Effectively: The Secret Technique

To address this challenge, every time you communicate, regardless of whether it is a presentation, interview or meeting, fill in the following sentence. It is the secret technique for how to communicate effectively using intention:

 I want to [intention] my audience so my audience will [objective].

Objective is what you want your audience to do or how you want them to feel. Intention is a strong, one-word verb (excite, motivate, challenge, etc.) that informs how you deliver your message to achieve your objective.

By using a strong intention, your audience should see it through what we call intention cues – the cues your face, voice and body send to let the audience know what’s important. They should be so powerful the audience will pay attention to them before anything else.

To illustrate objective and intention at work, consider the following speeches.

Steve Jobs launches the iPhone at MacWorld in 2007

Two years in the making, Steve Jobs introduces the standing room only crowd to Apple’s “widescreen iPod with touch controls,” “revolutionary mobile phone,” and “breakthrough Internet communicator.” This speech drives home the message – Apple reinvented the smartphone.

His sentence may have read:

“I want to excite you so that you rush to your nearest cellular provider to purchase our revolutionary iPhone.”

Notice how Steve’s intention cues – increasing the volume and energy in his voice, smiling proudly, and expansive gestures – support his intention to excite.

Guy Kawasaki – “Art of the Start” Speech

The best-selling author, speaker, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and former software evangelist for Apple, brings his signature style and engaging personality to his “Art of the Start” speech in Edinburgh, Scotland. The speech offers best practices for launching a tech company.

His sentence may have read:

“I want to educate you on pitfalls I’ve learned over my extensive entrepreneurial career so that launching your tech startup is successful.”

Notice how Guy’s intention cues – calm, comfortable posture, varied pace and pitch, and specific gestures – support his intention to educate.

Randy Pausch – “The Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”

In 2007, the computer science professor delivered his emotional address, “The Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” at Carnegie Mellon University after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis. In the popular and widely viewed speech, Pausch shares a series of life lessons to drive his point home.

His sentence might have read:

“I want to inspire you to follow your childhood dreams so you live a fulfilling and joyful life.”

Notice how Randy’s intention cues – smiling and laughing, dynamic pace and pitch, and specific gestures – all support his intention to inspire.

Whether you are making a customer service call, delivering a large presentation, running a team meeting, or having dinner with your family, the success of your communication depends on two things. First, your objective – something you need from your audience. Second, your intention – the way you will deliver your message to achieve your objective.

As a communicator, you’ll find intention is the most powerful tool in your arsenal, too. It will not only bring passion and purpose to your message, it is the most critical component in the pursuit of your objective – the rocket fuel that will launch you toward the accomplishment of your goal.

In “Tell to Win”, Hollywood producer and former Sony Pictures chairman Peter Guber writes that capturing your audience’s attention “involves focusing your whole being on your intent to achieve your purpose…your intention is actually what signals listeners to pay attention.”

As we state our book, The Pin Drop Principle, without an activated intention behind your delivery – and one that is specifically in line with your objective, the best your message will be is ambiguous.

To learn more about how to communicate effectively using intention, please contact us.

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