5 Tips For Delivering Bad News the Right Way

You have to know how to deliver bad news the right way
You have to know how to deliver bad news the right way

Image Credit: Kristina Alexanderson

As with all things in life, there is a right way and a wrong way to deliver bad news to an audience. When we find ourselves in a position where we’ve been asked to be the ones to deliver bad news, the people who are asking us to do this have the expectation that we know about the importance of public speaking and that we’ve mastered the right way to go about doing it. Do you?

The 5 Things That You Need To Know

As you can well imagine, there are a lot of different things that you are going to have to keep in mind when you are delivering bad news. It can be a challenge to remember all of them, but here are the most important ones:

  • Make sure your message is clear: Your audience is obviously going to be in a very emotional state. They are going to want to have answers to the two most important questions from their viewpoint: what’s going on and how does it impact me? Your speech is going to have to provide them with clear answers to both of these questions. You are going to want to make sure that you don’t distort the truth or mask it by using big words.
  • Understand the power of your words: one of the things that they are always reminding us speakers about is the fact that what we are telling our audience will have an impact on them. What this means for us is that we need to be sensitive and we need to make sure that we are reading our audience and adjusting our speech to match their mood. One thing you may want to do is to acknowledge that your audience is feeling anxiety. By doing this you can minimize the number of times that they will interrupt you or express emotions during your speech.
  • Manage Your Emotions: one thing that can be all too easy for a speaker to overlook is that when we are delivering bad news, the news and the impact that it is having on our audience can have an impact on us. Your goal has to be to deliver your message without showing how upset you may be. The reason that you’ll want to do this is because when your audience is upset, if they see you as being upset also it may come across as being insincere.
  • It’s Not All About You: the words that you use during your speech are very important. Yes, it may be difficult for you to deliver this speech, but your audience does not want to hear about that right now. You must not try to play off of the audience’s sympathy. If you do something like this, you are just going to end up confusing your audience. Watch what words you are using in your speech. You should be using the word “you” much more than the word “I”.
  • Do Not Apologize: look, bad things happen. Just because you are reporting on the bad things that are happening that will be affecting this audience does not mean that you caused them to happen. You need to keep this in mind and not apologize to your audience. If you are apologizing, then you are making it appear as though you are at fault and this simply is not the case. If your audience is not happy about the actions that are being proposed and you start to apologize for them, then they are going to very quickly start to resent you.

What All Of This Means For You

Delivering bad news is never an easy task to do. When we are called on to be the ones who will share the news with an audience, we need to make sure that we know how to go about doing this. It can be too easy to do this the wrong way.

The most important thing that we’ll need to do is to make sure that the message that we are delivering is very clear. We want to acknowledge the emotions that our audience is feeling while not getting caught up in those emotions ourselves. We need to make sure that the message in our speech is about our audience, not ourselves. Finally, we need to make sure that we take steps to not apologize for what is happening – it’s not our fault.

The information that you deliver when giving a speech that is about bad news is critical information for your audience to have. In order to make sure that the message is delivered in a way that your audience will understand and to build on the benefits of public speaking, you’ll need to follow these five tips. It won’t make what you have to say any easier for your audience to hear, but it will make sure that they understand what you are saying.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: If you start to become upset during your speech, what action should you take?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’ve got a quick question for you: what’s the most important thing that speaker can do during a presentation? Give up? The answer is to form a bond with your audience. This will only happen if your audience believes that they really “get you” – that you understand them and that your message has been hand crafted just for them. This is what the importance of public speaking is all about. If you want to make this happen next time you speak, then you are going to have to learn to use eye contact correctly…