As a trainer and consultant in communication, the question often asked is how one can organize thoughts and opinions to sound organized, credible, and persuasive.
Let me share an easy framework that you can use to communicate more effectively, whether the scenario is spoken (face-to-face, phone, teleconference) or written (e-mails, reports). This is a framework that I teach in programs such as Oral Communication/ Presentation Skills, and Communication Assertiveness. This framework helps a lot in asserting yourself as well as in conducting presentations with more confidence.
Let us say you are asked a question or you need to give your opinion. You can use the PREP Framework. PREP stands for the following — and these should be part of your statement in order to sound credible:
P – Point
R – Reason
E – Explanation, Elaboration, Example
P – Point
Did you notice the sequence of the ideas mentioned?
Point: Start with your point. Go direct to the point and no beating around the bushes. Say what you need to say, and use assertive words that show confidence about what you are saying.
Reason: After stating your opinion or point, the question your listener will ask is, “So what?”
You will need to back up your statement with a reason if you want to bring people to your side. Stick to the facts. Be honest. Highlight items that will entice your listeners or readers to be convinced about what you are saying.
Always keep in mind two of your listeners’ questions: 1) So what? 2) What’s in it for me?
Explanation, Elaboration, Example: To bring home the argument in your favor, back up your point and reason with concrete examples.
Point: Wrap up by going back to your original point.
Notice that you will start and end with your point. We apply here what we call the laws of primacy and recency in communication. This means, people remember the first and last things the most. You will also need to wrap up with your point in case your listener forgets your main point during your discussion with him or her.
Let’s start with an easy, beauty contest question.
Question: Do you believe in saving the environment?
P – Yes, I believe in saving the environment.
R – The reason is that, we need to save the environment for our children and out children’s children. They are the future custodians of this planet, and they would need resrouces to live well.
E – They will need clean water and air. They will need forest from which they would get food and medicines. What would happen if we don’t save environment? Future generations will suffer.
P – Therefore, I believe in saving the environment.
Now, will this not get you the crown?
Question: Are you sure about the figures?
P – Yes, I am sure about the figures.
R – We have reviewed and verified all the data. We had accounting check everything. Our auditor also checked the figures.
E – Important figures checked include the witholding taxes, commissions, and interests. These are the areas which management has asked us to check. When we analyzed the data in these critical areas, we saw that all information is correct.
P – Therefore, I am sure about the figures. We are more than ready to submit them to the board.