A couple weeks ago, I talked about the importance of bringing yourself and your experience into your communication. While examples from your own experience can bring dry information to life, sometimes they aren’t enough. If you’re communicating with a group of people, there are several personalities and possibly communication styles in the room. That’s when you need the one-two punch.
The central question you’re answering when you provide examples is “how do I know this to be true?” You can go the simple route and provide two personal examples. Perhaps your audience needs a little more evidence, and one additional example will do. Maybe the first example you gave wasn’t clear to everyone. Maybe it didn’t connect with everyone. You might even change it up a little bit and give an example of someone else’s experience.
If you want to take things up a notch, you can add a different type of evidence. Some people like to use metaphors. Others prefer to quote an expert. Case studies are a more elaborate form of an example. My personal favorite is to turn to my audience and draw them out.
One time when I was giving a workshop a few years ago, a member of the team I was working with challenged me directly. He didn’t agree with a point I was making. I engaged with him directly, asking him to help me understand his point of view. (This is one way to engage your audience in a limited way.)
He made a statement I thought was pretty outrageous and I wasn’t sure how to respond. So, I turned to the room. “What do you all think about Tom’s perspective?” I asked. (This is a broader way to engage them.)
In another scenario, a manager was trying to get her team on board with a new strategy. She sensed hesitation and some resistance in the group. She asked them, “What are all the things you can imagine going wrong if we were to try this?” Once they’d indulged their fears, she asked, “And what are all the things we could gain if it worked?” Ultimately, the team decided to try.
Regardless of the type of communication you’re engaging in, you probably want your audience to get on board with your ideas. Even when giving information, we want people to accept it. Using one example alone may not cut it. When you need a one-two punch, try using multiple forms of evidence. You’ll win them over.