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Don’t Ramble! How to Communicate with Impact

Apr 11, 2016

Have you ever been in a meeting where, despite your best efforts to look like you were paying attention, your eyes just glazed over and your mind wandered as the person who was speaking droned on incessantly without making any discernible point?

Worse yet, have you been the stupor-inducing person who was rambling?

Here is a tip for how to frame your comments to communicate and lead with impact, whether it be in your next team meeting, a speech, or an interview.  

Just remember SCAR.

It sounds painful, but it’s actually quite useful.

SCAR is an acronym, which stands for:

Situation:  briefly provide an overview of the situation or subject you are describing. Emphasis on the word “briefly.”
Considerations/Complications:  What are the most important elements or facts they need to know about this situation or topic?
Action:  What is the action that you took or that is required?
Result:  What was the result of the action you took? Or what do you expect to be able to see when you put your action plan in place? Be specific vs. general.

Now let’s do a before and after makeover example...

Before - Rambling Example:

Thanks for meeting today. You all know business has been challenging and things are just getting tougher. We need to figure out how to fix it. I know we did a lot of things and we worked hard, and because of a series of initiatives last year we’re doing better than we were in some areas, but of course there’s always room for improvement. So what are your ideas on how to fix it? We need to pull together and drive for results. I’m going to go around the room and I want your ideas.

After - SCAR Example:  

S:  Our sales are down 6% quarter-to-date vs. last year and we need to at least get to flat to last year by fiscal year-end.

C:  Two product lines are driving the declines. The other lines of business are actually gaining vs. last year.

A:   We need to understand the root causes of the loss in volume for the two product lines and develop a plan to reverse the declines. Nancy and Tom, I want you both to lead this analysis and come back to me in two weeks with a plan.

R:  Specifically, we need to understand what the problems are, but more importantly, your recommendations for how we can end the year at flat to +2% in revenue on the two product lines. Please make sure you involve your cross-functional peers so the plan is actionable and realistic.   

The first example provides no clarity on what the actual problem is, or what the request is either. The second example leaves no room for doubt.

This framework is also extremely useful in interview situations. By prepping several SCAR stories in advance, you will be able to succinctly describe your contributions and accomplishments in a compelling way that the interviewer can easily follow.

Give this SCAR framework a spin in your next communication opportunity and let me know how it goes. I'm willing to bet you have a much more effective impact through your communication. 


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