The Harvard Business Review recently reported that, if you want your employees to do something, you have to tell them at least twice.
This finding, from research conducted by Harvard Business School’s Tsedal Neeley and Northwestern’s Paul Leonard, will come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever raised a teenager. But apparently it’s not well understood by powerful managers, who “assume their authority motivates others.”
(According to Neeley and Leonard’s study, it doesn’t.)
Make It Personal
The article goes on to explain that, “[m]anagers with authority started [asking for what they wanted done] with a delayed communication — one that may not be received right away, like an e-mail or voice mail. When things didn’t get done, they’d shoot off an instant communication.
“Managers without power did the opposite. They started with an instant communication, often a face-to-face conversation, and then followed up with a delayed message.”
In other words, managers who had less institutional authority used more personal communication to get agreement for what they wanted done
Don’t Be Afraid to Say It Again
In public speaking (and remember, that means any business-related exchange, not just podium presentations), the thing to repeat is your key message. Your key message is the one idea that your audience will remember. It’s the summary of everything you want them to understand. Doesn’t that sound like it’s worth repeating?
Many speakers shy away from delivering the same key message in (essentially) the same words, twice. Maybe they remember their high school English teacher’s injunction to never repeat a word in the same paragraph. Maybe they’re afraid of boring the people they’re speaking to by repeating a thought.
Go Ahead: Repeat Yourself!
But it’s not boring to hear a powerful message, delivered with conviction at both the beginning and the end of someone’s remarks. In fact, we need repetition to show us what’s important, and to anchor us in a speaker’s thoughts.
So don’t be like the powerful manager who thinks people will listen just because he’s got authority. Instead, help your audience take in what you’re saying by stating your key message at least twice.
And if that doesn’t work, you can always pull out the megaphone.