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Simply Said by Jay Sullivan

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CHAPTER 3 A Place for Everything Organizing Your Content

Keeping the focus on the other person isn’t just about the key message. It extends to the way you organize your information. Consider three aspects to structuring your information:

  1. The audience’s needs
  2. The key message you want listeners to hear
  3. Your purpose—to persuade them to take action or to simply convey information

As with all things, start with the other person. What does he, she, or they need to take away from the conversation? We covered this earlier in the chapter on crafting a clear message, but it bears reinforcing. Let’s use a particular scenario to demonstrate an effective overall message.

Let’s say you walk into your boss’s office or cubicle. Because you read Chapter 1, you already know not to start with: “I want to talk to you about Project X.” Instead, you start with: “Since we have a staff meeting tomorrow, I thought it would be helpful to you to give you an update on Project X.” Your boss waves you into her office. If you start with a litany of all the steps you and your team have taken with Project X, your boss is hearing data points without context and she doesn’t know how to hear your points. Start instead with the broadest possible assessment of the situation.

Here are some examples:

Regarding Project X, everything is on track. The moment you say this, what happens to your boss’s body language? She immediately relaxes. She’s not going to hear about some major disappointment. Her task at the staff ...

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