Speaking to an individual is different from the group experience. Whether you are training someone, selling, coaching, or asking for a raise, here are some tips for speaking one-to-one.
o Eliminate distractions. Choose a comfortable setting – perhaps your office or a conference room with good lighting. Block off distracting window views and minimize interruptions. Clear the table of clutter.
o Sit next to the person at eye level. Sit side by side rather than across a desk form each other. This has psychological and physical effects. It creates a feeling of being on the same side and allows both people to look at materials from the same perspective.
o Maintain good eye contact but do not stare. In a group you make eye contact with everyone. With individuals, you do not want to lock eyes. Break eye contact from time to time. A good guide is to look at the person 70% of the time.
o Use visual aids. Props, pictures, and objects can serve as effective visual aids. Visuals are important learning tools, and you should not overlook them in a one-to-one situation. Be sure your visuals are appropriate to the situation. A few carefully placed props and occasional use of a table easel can enhance your presentation.
o Clarify but do not repeat questions. In a large group, you repeat the question so that everyone can hear it. But in one-to-one settings, the same technique would be silly. You may ask for clarification: "Are you saying that you need more practice?" Or you may restate the question in your answer. "The procedure for this project is …"
o Maintain a comfortable physical distance. Do not invade the other person's space. When sitting side by side, do not lean in or take over the person's materials. Ask permission to demonstrate with their materials.
o Pause. The brain needs a few seconds to process information. Do not overload the learner with too much data. Pause between thoughts to let the information sink in.
o Use smaller gestures. Show enthusiasm and get involved with the learner. Allow yourself to be natural and expressive. But contain your gestures, because the physical space is smaller in one-to-one situations. Wide, sweeping movements will seem out of place.
o Prepare and organize. It's easy to lose track of time when you're working with only one person. Whether you train one person or a hundred, the preparation is the same. Without adequate preparation, you'll seem disorganized and unprofessional. Prepare an outline and establish time frames.
Watch for nonverbal cues. In a group, different personalities react in diverse ways. Someone in the group will often say what others are thinking. In a one-to-one situation, however, the person may feel a reluctant to tell you that he or she needs a break or does not understand. Watch body language and continuously check back: "You look like you disagree." "Are you ready for a break?" "Is this something you can use on the job?"
Copyright Diane DiResta 2005. All rights reserved.