Clarity is a critical leadership communication tool. We provide a checklist to ensure every time you speak, your clarity helps you influence others. 

It was a Monday morning, and I was in a groove. I just needed one piece of information to continue in this flow state. 

So I sent a quick note to my team requesting the information. Unfortunately, although the request was crystal clear in my head, it wasn’t clear to them. In fact, each member of my team had a different picture of what I was requesting. Each one sent me something—and none of them delivered what I actually wanted.

That situation was entirely my fault. I wasted everyone’s time by sending them, individually, on a wild goose chase at the beginning of the week.

Does this sound familiar? 

Clarity is one of the most important leadership tools we can develop. Because of this, it’s a significant part of my Lead With Your Voice keynote and one of my research areas for 2024. It’s a core component of our leadership communication programs for companies around the world.

Clarity means: easy to understand, see, and hear. 

When you speak, how easy is it for someone to understand, see, or hear you? Do you paint a clear picture of an issue, a challenge, an opportunity—or do your employees need to be mind readers in order to understand you? 

When seeking to influence others, complexity is a significant barrier to action. People who are confused are less inclined to take action.

While we conceptually know this is important, the “know-do gap” is vast. 

So how do we ensure that our communications, whether we’re communicating UP to management, OUT to our peers, or DOWN to our employees, has clarity? 

At Global Public Speaking, we teach leaders to speak clearly in high-stakes and everyday situations. Here is one checklist taken from our training toolkit.

The next time you prepare a message, presentation, or even an email, review this clarity checklist, using the acronym LIVES.

A Checklist for Clarity: Ensure your message LIVES on

Does your message include clarity of:

  • Limits of information: Are you transparent about what you know and what you don’t know? 
  • Information: Do you include clear descriptions, highlighting key areas and removing unnecessary words or explanations? 
  • Visuals: Do you use either mental or digital images to reinforce the information?
  • Examples: Do you use stories or anecdotes that make your message come alive? (Bonus E: Expectations: Do you clearly share expectations, rules, or requirements?)
  • Structure: Does your message follow a logical structure, with clear signposts and transitions to demonstrate how the concepts connect to one another?

When you use the LIVES checklist, you put yourself in your audience’s shoes to ensure that your message is easy to understand, see, and hear – which makes it easier for them to take action. 

Use this as a litmus test before you communicate with your team, and share it with them so they can clearly communicate with others in their meetings and presentations. 

We can move from wasting each other’s time to maximizing our productivity—and our impact.