Style vs substance

A major source of frustration of many professionals is the tragedy of the victory of style over substance. Many of us fail to get our key messages over to those that matter.

We fail to articulate our message in way that others understand:

  • Our message is too complex
  • We provide too much depth and detail
  • Our presentation skills are weak
  • We don’t connect to the concerns of our audience
  • We are blocked from communicating by others
  • The implications of our points are simplified and trivialised
  • We don’t understand the decision making process 
  • Our audience “gives up” before we get to the message

It is clear that we often need to work on our presentation skills. However, I want to make an appeal to our intended audience and those that block us from reaching them.

The key point is that we have a lot of important and sometimes critical things to say. By not hearing these messages you may be damaging your own organisations and your own careers. For this reason, it is worth hearing us out. It is worth helping us to get to the point. It is worth wading through the detail. It is worth joining the dots from our points to the key issues that you face.

Will we always have a message worth listening to? No! Should you persevere? Yes! Why? The professional mindset is generally apolitical. It is more interested in doing what is right. The underlying motivation will be sound. 

Compare this to the backstabbing cronies who have climbed the greasy pole by stamping on the backs of others. Compare this to the highly polished presentation of half truths and flawed logic aimed at gaining personal kudos rather than furthering the greater good. 

I would rather make the effort to understand the message from an inarticulate but competent person with the right motivation than try to deconstruct the motivation for giving me information of a slick politician with suspect capability.

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