Being asked to give a speech is a great honor. Being asked to give a speech that is going to deliver bad news to part or all of business is not such an honor. However, in order to be a truly good speaker, this is exactly the type of speech that you need to be able to step up and give. The keys are knowing how to organize this type of speech and what not to say…
How To Organize Bad News
When you’ve been asked to give bad news to people who work for a business, how you organize the information that you are going to be delivering is very important. Your audience is going to know why you are there so you are going to want to get to the main point of your speech as quickly as possible.
Kathy Berger has looked into how bad business news can be structured when it is delivered. She’s come up with four pillars of information that always need to be included in this type of presentation:
- Neutral Statement: Before you launch into delivering bad news to your audience, you’ll want to take steps to get them to see the world the way that you currently see it. The best way to make this happen is to start your speech off with a neutral statement that everyone can agree with. This can be a simple observation of how things currently stand.
- Bad News: Now is the time to deliver the bad news. You don’t want to put this off because your audience is expecting and anticipating this news and if you delay giving it to them, then they won’t be able to focus on anything else that you say until you do. You need to keep this very short – strip out all unnecessary words and simply focus on saying the bad thing that is going to happen.
- Impact: Bad news is just bad news. What’s really important to your audience is what this news means for them. If you don’t tell them, they’ll make it up on their own. This is why after you relay the bad news to them you need to quickly follow this up with clear statements that let your audience know how their world is going to change because of the bad news.
- Details: When we receive bad news a 1,000 questions start to run through our minds. We’re not happy and we want to see if perhaps some sort of mistake has been made, maybe something has been overlooked. That’s why it is so important that you include the details that will provide answers to these questions in your speech. By tackling them in your speech, you improve the state of mind that your audience will end up leaving your speech in.
What Not To Do When You Are Delivering Bad News
So now that you know how to organize the bad business news that you are delivering, now we need to make sure that we know what not to do while delivering this information.
Don’t lie. Although this seems like some basic advice, the desire to lie or even just stretch the truth a bit can be a powerful motivator when you are delivering bad news. Don’t do it. Anytime that you try to tone down the bad news by saying something that is untrue it will always come back to bite you.
Don’t be unclear. When what we have to say is difficult or painful to say, we often like to wrap it in a lot of words that we think will soften the blow. Don’t do this. Your audience will have to work that much harder to understand what you are trying to say and they may even end up being confused.
Don’t be insensitive. Bad business news will cause an emotional reaction in your audience. As a speaker you need to realize this and be tuned in to understanding how your audience is reacting to what you are saying. During this speech you are going to have to acknowledge this and show your audience that you understand how they are feeling.
Don’t talk about you. In order to shield yourself from having to think about how this bad business news is going to be affecting your audience, we sometimes tend to make our speech all about us: how we feel about the news, what we are thinking, etc. Don’t do this – your audience really doesn’t care about you, they want to hear what all of this means for them.
What All Of This Means For You
Not all speeches are inspirational speeches – sometimes bad news has to be delivered. Giving this type of speech is never easy and that’s why it’s so important that we learn to do it the right way.
Organizing the speech correctly is the first step in effectively delivering bad news. Clearly telling your audience what the bad news is and then immediately following that up with words that will tell them what the impact of this information on them will be is the key to doing a good job. In this type of speech, how you say it can be as important as what you say. We’ve covered several things that you’ll need to avoid.