Communicating with compassion is about harnessing three things: honesty, kindness, and understanding. In this guide to compassionate communication, Irene Githinji, shows how these principles can be applied to ensure our communications to groups and large audiences are effective.
Before you start
Identify your target audience.
This is very important because not everyone will understand your topic due to either language barriers or educational background.
Decide on the topic/s for discussion.
You need to have your thoughts in order. This will enable your audience to understand your project.
Compile your ideas beginning with the most important to the least.
Your audience should understand your project and line of thoughts within the first ten (10) minutes of your presentation.
Give your audience time to react to your presentation.
They may ask questions, request for clarifications or acknowledge their understanding by nodding their heads, showing the thumps up sign or even smiling.
Speak confidently with an audible voice.
Everyone in the room should hear what you are saying without requests for you to raise your voice.
Feedback from your listeners is very critical. This will help you in understanding your topic of discussion from their perspective. You will also know which areas you should improve on.
This is the use of words that are not understood by everyone in an audience. You want everyone to be engaged.
Be in touch with your body language. Ensure that your body language corresponds with the topic under discussion. Your audience will read your body language whether you acknowledge it or not. Convince your audience with your words by ensuring that your body language corresponds with what you are saying.
Your non-verbal communication should be intentional on your part. This may include the use of gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact.
This involves actively listening through engaging your audience by asking questions and re-phrasing the parts that are not understood. This will enhance respect between you and your audience. Pay attention to your audience’s body language and tone of voice. Ask follow up questions if necessary.
Traits like honesty and kindness will help you to foster trust and understanding with your audience. Maintain a positive attitude and an open mind at all times. Some audiences may test your patience by trying to be more knowledgeable on a topic more than you. Keep calm and avoid the temptation to become rude. Everyone’s opinion is necessary in a group setting. Connect with people by finding out how they are doing and smiling. Offer praise when due.
Read and translate your audience’s emotions and respond appropriately. Use this method in cases of anger, frustration etc. Empathy will help you to diffuse and acknowledge this kind of emotion. Acknowledge positive and enthusiastic emotions as well.
Irene Githinji is from Nairobi, Kenya. She is a career administrator with many years experience in the Kenyan Motor Industry. She is involved in community service in Nairobi, helping to keep vulnerable children – especially girls – in school. She is a certified mental health trainer.