Management Matters: Don’t Just Listen – Do Something

Do you ever find yourself wondering why you have to work so hard to get others to take action? Do you lose the focus or begin to ramble when you communicate? Regardless of whether you are facilitating a group, leading a meeting, are involved in a one-on-one interaction, or making a presentation to a group, you need a strategy for preparing a message that gets the results you are after.

If, rather than thinking you are terrific, your goal is to move other to take action, try these ideas:

Begin Boldly - It’s very important that you start with a strong opening that grabs the attention of your listener. Many people tell me, “Once I get started I’m okay.” That sounds to me like they are really saying “Don’t listen to me for the first two minutes. Wait until I get going. It gets better later.“

Short and To the Point– Being clear about your goal for speaking is the first critical step in being concise. Avoid starting out with “What I would like to talk about today is…” The people you are talking to probably know why you want to speak with them - unless you’ve decided to keep it a surprise! You don’t need to lay groundwork for the topic; get right to the point within the first 30 seconds. Sound bites are easier to remember than paragraphs.

Develop Trust - People are persuaded by people they trust so share your feelings about the topic. If you think the topic is important, say so and tell them why. Facts are persuasive but logic alone won’t convince them.

Be Specific - Communicate in specific terms what you want your audience or listener to do. It increases the chances that they will take action because you have spelled out exactly the action you want to see. Don’t drop hints! For others to act, they need to leave with a very clear understanding of what you are asking of them: “Vote for me,” “Sign up today,” “Write a check.”

WIIFM - Everyone is tuned in to W I I F M (What’s in it for me?) and that is what people really want to know. Articulate the benefits of action. It’s often the most important element to your message.

End Strong - It’s common knowledge that we remember the first and last thing we hear. Your closing should be as strong as your opening.

Revising your communication behavior to enhance your message and how you are perceived by those who listen to you takes time, thought, planning, and practice. If you promise yourself that you will craft your message in a more thoughtful and focused way, you will be able to have a greater impact, motivate others to take action. You might even be able to talk less. And when you DO speak, people will really listen.

Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management training and development consulting practice that specializes in developing human resources in the areas of leadership and management training, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 25 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

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