Remember back in your childhood years when show and tell was an important part of life? You’d bring an object to school that was important to you, show it to your class and tell them what made it special. A similar approach can be useful when it comes to delivering effective communications. Too often, as adults, we either show or tell instead of doing both. Take a look at the three benefits of both showing and telling below and see where you can power up your words.

Provide Context

Tell your staff you need a 3% increase in productivity over the next quarter without showing them what it means and you’re unlikely to reach your goals. If, however, you illustrate why the uptick is required and outline the ways in which you’ll achieve your mission and your compliance rate will go up. Simultaneously, introducing a number of changes without telling them what the point is, won’t gain maximum traction. Together, show and tell and inform and motivate by providing context your audience can comprehend.

Connect Emotionally

Combining the power of showing and telling delivers a one-two punch that can viscerally connect your news to your audience in a personal way. Consider what happens when you provide a statistic about homelessness or hunger. Now think about what happens when you show what that looks like for a family. That illustration can engage people emotionally and moves them to action in a way that facts alone won’t.

Meet Your Audience Where They Are

You’ll always know those who want just the facts while others need the more human elements. When you show AND tell, you deliver your message in a way that works for both sorts of people. The engineer who needs the technical specs can be served while the sales person who needs to articulate the impact of changes to their customers can also get what they need.

So many of the skills we learned as children can serve us well as adults. In addition to bringing back show and tell, you might also integrate asking for what you want, following the golden rule, and not saying anything at all if you don’t have something nice to say.

Talk to you next week,

Amber D. Nelson


Cover of Amber Nelson's book, "Talk to Me"

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