Tips for product managers to communicate so people remember
We are about to have an important discussion on how to communicate in a way that makes people remember what is important. That is communicating to influence others and build networks to help you accomplish your product objectives. Helping us do that is our guest, Tina Frey Clements. She believes that a company’s success is directly related to the engagement of its people. She excels at moving businesses forward and motivating and growing talent. Her experience has been in many areas but has emphasized the automotive industry, with treks at BMW, Volkswagen, and Mini.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[1:41] You help people become better communicators and facilitators. What do you mean by facilitation?
When you’re facilitating a message, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your recipient, the learner. The job of a facilitator is to present the information and get out of the way of the learner and let them learn.
[3:49] What should we try to accomplish as facilitators?
First you have to define your specific goal. Usually, a product manager’s goal is to communicate knowledge. A specific goal might be communicating with a retail store so you can sell something or communicating with marketing so they can promote your product.
Second, remember that whomever you’re communicating with doesn’t necessarily communicate like you. We typically communicate in the way we like to be communicated to, but that rarely works. Figure out how your audience needs to hear your information and communicate so that they are hearing it and retaining it.
[9:21] How do we help our audience remember, retain, and apply?
That’s not easy. Once you’ve acknowledged that not everyone learns like you do, the next step is identifying the learning style of the person you’re communicating with. Some examples of learning styles are visual, auditory, reading/writing, intellectual, and kinesthetic. Tailor your communication to your audience’s learning style. For a visual learner, use visual aids. For an auditory learner, ask them to repeat back what they understood. If you’re communicating to a big group, script your message to reach all of them. Always leave your audience with an action item.
[15:18] How else can we better communicate?
If possible, be interactive. Use the 80:20 rule—20% of your communication should be teaching the information and 80% should be your audience figuring it out on their own. For people to act, they have to create their own thought about the topic. Interaction is the critical element to engage the audience. Even if you’re in a formal setting behind a podium, you can encourage interaction by asking people to answer questions or raise their hands. Always invite people to ask you questions afterward.
[24:29] How can product managers focus on solving the customer problem?
We often focus on our solution instead of listening to customers. We need to prioritize learning about the customer problem. Without knowing your customers’ real problems, you’ll never be successful.
[28:07] How can we partner with others to be successful in our communication?
Focus on what you’re really good at and partner with others who complement your strengths. If you know everything about your product, but you’re not good at selling it, partner with someone who is. If you don’t want to partner with someone, change your behavior to communicate better. Don’t fake it so much that you lose who you really are, but take action to build relationships.
[31:42] How do you use story to make your communication more effective?
Be transparent, vulnerable, and relatable. This will make your audience want to hear you and trust you. When you can, use story. Everyone loves and can relate to a story. You could share a personal story about your journey with the product. You can use stories to engage all types of leaners.
Action Guide: Put the information Tina shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
- Check out Tina’s book, The Art of Facilitation: Communicate So They Remember
- Visit Tina’s website, RPCAmerica.com
- Look out for Tina’s new book, Fantastic Facilitation Fails
“If you can predict it, you can prepare for it.” – Unknown
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.