Guess what? There is bad news out there and sometimes it’s going to be your job to deliver it to an audience. Nope, this is not going to be an easy thing to do; however, it does need to be done and you are going to have to make sure that you do a good job of doing it. As with so many other things in life, it turns out that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about doing all of this.
Just Say What You’ve Got To Say
I don’t like delivering bad news and I’m willing to bet that you don’t like doing it either. The problem is that because we don’t look forward to this task, we can sometimes attempt to “soften the blow” and instead of telling our audience what they deserve to hear, we instead spend a great deal of time working our way up to the big announcement. Make sure that you don’t do this. It’s not fair to your audience and this is not what they have come to hear you.
Instead, what you are going to want to do is to deliver the bad news to your audience as quickly as possible. The one thing that you are going to want to avoid doing is building suspense with your audience. When you deliver the bad news, you are going to want to make sure that you leave no doubts about what your message is. As you deliver your message, take care to make sure that the words that you are using will not stir any emotion in your audience.
Speakers who are experienced in delivering bad news recommend that in our speech we deliver the bad news only once and that we do not repeat ourselves. Additionally, in this kind of speech, the words that we use are going to be very important. We are going to want to avoid using words that have a negative connotation associated with them. These types of words include “mistake”, “misunderstanding”, dismal” and “unfortunately”.
Make A Connection With Your Audience
Telling your audience the bad news that they have been expecting to hear is only one part of your job as the bearer of bad news. You are going to have to take things one step further. Once you share the bad news with them, they are all going to have one question that they are going to want you to answer next. This question is, of course, “what does this mean for me?”.
This is where you are going to have to have done your homework. Your speech will not count for much if you can’t answer this critical question for your audience. When you are providing the answers to this question, you are going to want to use the word “you” if it is at all possible. If you find yourself addressing a large audience, then this just might not be possible to do. However, if you can’t, then you’ll need to at least be as specific as possible. By doing your homework, you should have numbers available to you and this should help you to address the other question that your audience will be dealing with: “when”.
Provide Facts That Support What You Are Saying
Doing the research needed to support the speech that you’ll be giving is always a good idea. When you are called on to deliver a speech with bad news in it, this becomes and even more critical task. You are going to want to follow up your delivery of bad news with details about what will be going on, reasons for the actions that are being taken, and your predictions about what will be unfolding in the future.
By providing your audience with facts about what is happening, you will be able to show them that your message is not made up. Rather it is realistic and is based on facts. This may be a very good time for you to share with your audience other potential solutions that were considered and then tell them why they ended up not being selected.
In order for this part of your speech to be successful, you are going to have to build on the first part of your speech. If you were able to both capture and hold your audience’s attention from the start of your speech, then you should be able to deliver this part of your speech to an attentive audience. Do keep in mind that some circumstances will require that you follow a company procedure for delivering this type of news. Take care to meet those guidelines while still meeting the needs of your audience.
What All Of This Means For You
There is no question that delivering bad news to an audience is a challenging thing to do. However, when we are called on to perform this task, we need to step up and do it correctly. The one thing that we want to avoid doing is not being clear and attempting too hard to soften the blow.
When delivering bad news, the best thing to do is to simply get right to the point of your speech. Give your audience the bad news that they are expecting. Don’t take time to try to explain why the news that you’ll be giving is not so bad. After you have shared the bad news, you then quickly have to answer the question that everyone in your audience will be asking: what does this mean for me? In order to do a good job of providing this answer, you will have had to do your homework.
Bad news is not an easy message to deliver. However, with a bit of practice and if we are willing to just jump in there and do it, then it can be done. No, your audience is not going to be happy to hear what you have to tell them, but they are going to be eager to get this task out of the way. Treat your audience with respect and provide them with the answers to the questions that they have and everyone will then be able to move on with their lives that much quicker.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™
Question For You: How long do you think that a “bad news’ speech should last?
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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
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?