Monday, February 28, 2022

4 Ways to Better Communicate Complex Information

If you're an expert in your field and are called upon to communicate some complex ideas to an audience that may only understand the basics, it can be a challenge.

If you speak the way you usually do -- say to a teammate or your boss --  you're likely to lose your listeners. Or, if you just throw a lot of statistics at them in an effort to emphasize the importance of your topic, you're likely to lose your listeners.

That may be frustrating for you, which is why you decide to just plow ahead and hope someone gets it.


That will not only lose your listeners, but possibly the good will of your boss.

That's because the boss understands that while the information you share is important, it's also critical that you communicate it so that everyone gets it. Everyone. Not just people in your department.

Here are some ways to communicate complex information:

1. Don't assume anything. Just because you know all about XYZ -- and have for a long time -- doesn't mean anyone else does. So, that means you need to weed out unnecessary information, cut the jargon and break it down to the basics: who, what, when, where, how and why. 

2. Don't use data overload.  While you may have loads of data, that doesn't mean your audience will find it useful. You need to be able to explain your subject without the data first. Why should anyone care about your information? How will it impact them or the company? Can you provide an everyday example of what you're telling them?

3. Focus on your audience. What do they need to hear? What do they need to learn? Use that as your starting point -- don't focus on what you need to say but rather think about the needs of your audience.

4. Use visuals. PowerPoints are not supposed to just be a copy of your presentation. Use visuals to convey a feeling or reveal a few surprising facts or statistics in a bulleted format (this prevents you from data dumping). 

It's not easy to convey complex information in a way that anyone can understand. But with some planning and practice, your presentation can not only be informative, but help your career by showing you as a great communicator.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Always Taking Care of Others? You Could be a Sort of Narcissist

When I think of narcissism, I think of those people whose egos are so outsized that they  never believe they make a mistake or that they are wrong. I think of selfishness, a sense of entitlement and a lack of empathy.

This self-centeredness can pop up in the workplace -- I'll bet you can think of a boss or colleague who fits the mold.

But what if it's you?

Psychologist Nancy Van Dyken says that there are everyday narcissists who may not recognize their own behavior that is frustrating to those around them.

These "garden-variety form of narcissism" folks are often people-pleasers, trying to always "take care" of others and feel responsible for them. They also believe that others are responsible for how they feel. All these beliefs put the person in a central role, setting up an "all powerful" position.

These narcissistic patterns are often instilled in childhood, she says, which makes the person believe he or she is at the center of it all when that's not really the case.

So, someone in this situation might take care of everyone around her at work, while her own mental and physical well-being suffer. Until this person recognizes this destructive pattern -- either through self-reflection or therapy -- then it's likely to make this person unhappy.

If you're feeling stressed at work, think about what unconscious actions you may be taking that prompt you to take care of others at work and feel responsible for them. It could just be that's what you want for yourself -- and that's not  a healthy expectation of your colleagues or bosses.