How can one organize thoughts and opinions to project credibility and more importantly, influence people? How can one get his point across in a more organized manner? These are two of the most frequently asked questions professionals ask during training programs like Communication Assertiveness or People Handling Skills.
Here is an an easy and practical framework or formula that can be used to communicate more effectively.
Imagine that you are asked for your opinion during a management meeting. You can use the PREP Framework. It is a quick and very easy way to organize your thoughts on the spot. Each letter in PREP stands for a part of your message.
Point: Start with your point. In giving opinions, there is generally no room for being indirect. This is especially true when talking to top managers, who want to hear the bottom-line right away. Start your point with assertive expressions such as “I believe” or “In my opinion” to show confidence and decisiveness.
Reason: After stating your opinion or point, the question your listener will ask is, “So what?”
You will need to support your statement with a reason to bring people on the same page as you. Stick to the facts. Provide basis. Highlight items that will entice your listeners or readers to be convinced about what you are saying. Keep in mind two critical questions coming from listeners: 1) So what?; 2) What’s in it for me? The second question is also popularly referred to as the WIFM.
Explanation, Elaboration, Example: To ensure that you are able to get the point across clearly, support point and reason with concrete examples and comprehensive explanation.
Point: Summarize by going back to your original point.
Notice that the statement starts and ends with the main point. The principles of primacy and recency are used here. In communication, the argument is that people remember the first and last things communicated the most. A quick recap of the original point also helps the listener remember in case he or she has forgotten what the point is.
This tool is useful whether the scenario is spoken (e.g. face-to-face, phone, presentations, conference calls) or written (e-mails, reports). It is also a good tool in expressing one’s thoughts when giving feedback.
Question: Are you sure about your recommendation to proceed with the project?
P – Yes, our team recommends proceeding with the project.
R – We have reviewed all the plans, and we have all the resources needed to begin the project.
E – The budget has been acquired, the right people have been hired. The materials also arrived yesterday.
P – Therefore, based on these considerations, we are recommend proceeding with the project.