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Reduce Communication Noise By Aligning Data with These 5 Meeting Types

Minimize noise by aligning the data you share with the type of meeting (meeting forum).
Minimize noise by aligning the data you share with the type of meeting (meeting forum).

Communication noise can be efficiently reduced by aligning the data we share with the meeting type. The five meeting types, or communication forums, to consider for reducing noise are meetings with senior management, internal work-team meetings, public speaking, communication with the media, and interaction with elected officials.

Use the FINESSE approach in meetings with senior management. FINESSE can also make internal work-team meetings more efficient and effective but follow the lead of the meeting facilitator. When it comes to public speaking, communication with the media, and interaction with elected officials, less data is better. Some modified approaches are needed for these communication frames.

Meetings with Senior Management

Meetings with senior management and decision makers are the primary focus of the FINESSE approach. Two underlying assumptions are that the decision is strategic (big) and requires a longer period of time due to high levels of complexity and uncertainty.

Communicating with FINESSE with senior management and decision makers differs from technical team meetings. Communicating as a trusted advisor to senior management and decision makers fundamentally differs from public speaking, media communications, and interacting with elected officials.

Less is more when it comes to data sharing and its potential to produce noise with senior management. Providing less data is consistent with other noise reduction tips, such as providing a balanced approach with human aspects, narrative discussion, and symbolic (numbers, graphs, equations) communication. Less is more is consistent with the six essential graphics, one per category, provided within the Illustrations bone.

Senior management wants to know the time, not how the watch was made.

Less is more is also consistent with duty-based ethics. You are there as a trusted advisor, not a persuader or manipulator. And it is consistent with endless respect and empathy for the decision maker – after all, FINESSE is about the message receiver, not the message sender.

Limit the amount of data and information provided in summary reports and verbal presentations to senior management. Make it transparently available if they wish to dig deeper into the details.

2. Meeting with Internal (Work) Teams

Internal (work) team meetings are technical meetings where decision makers are not involved. The same FINESSE approach will make technical, work-team meetings more efficient and effective. However, there is no doubt that the technical details are much more important because the purpose of the meeting is to work out the technical issues.

The rule of thumb to reduce noise is to treat a meeting where a member of senior management or decision maker is present as a meeting with senior management. If one person from senior management is present, consider it a work team meeting and follow the guidelines provided by the meeting facilitator.

Work team meetings are naturally noisy.

3. Public Speaking

Public speaking involves providing 30- to 60-minute presentations to community-based organizations, stakeholder groups, or professional societies. For technical professionals, this type of public speaking may take the form of information about a new product or technology, a project update, a response to a major threat, or a summary of actions taken on a specific subject. Lunch or dinner presentations, keynote speeches, and many conference presentations fall into this category.

Public speaking is about the entertainment value.

Public speaking is speaker oriented.

Conference presentations serve as a good example. The highest-ranked sessions normally have more pictures than words, stories to make you laugh, and few process diagrams. High-ranked conference sessions are