Delivering bad news is never fun. Some people will avoid it at all costs. The trouble is, the problems persist, and people ignore it. That feeling of discomfort gnaws at you and consistently grows.
Here, ignorance is not bliss, because it comes at a significant toll on people's sanity. When we attempt to soften the blow and avoid delivering difficult information, people grow suspicious.
It is far better to create a culture that tells it like it is and puts problems and bad news out in the open. When people know what they can expect, they are more purposeful on how to fix it. If you have to deliver bad news to a group, it's best to start by addressing the whole group, rather than each individually. This way people don't feel excluded and uncertainty and fear grow. Thus your message will be catered to the group and how it impacts the team.
Even if you're delivering bad news, it should still be considered a motivational speech. Your aim should be to leave people in a positive place and not depress them.
A speech that inspires people gives them hope and perspective, so this has to be the goal.
If you don't consider it a motivational speech, your presentation may evolve around bringing people down. After all, bad things can still produce needed change, so there is usually some good that can come out of bad news. If the tone of your message is depressing, it will scare people and cause them to retreat.
To deliver bad news, start by recognizing people for what works. Celebrate quirks, accomplishments, and successes to bring down defenses and show you are aware of the big picture.
Never deliver bad news to people already on the defensive. More than likely, they will take it personally. Once the audience
is appropriately primed, it's best to get right to the bad news. Like removing a band-aid, get it over with quickly.
People will grow skeptical if you dance around the truth. Your goal is to mobilize people around solutions so leave no doubt what the message is.
Give a clear picture of what has happened and how it impacts the audience. When delivering bad news, it usually creates uncertainty. In the midst of these feelings, people need direction. Most leaders try to pad the message and offer condolences or support when what people need is a clear direction. Tell people what this news means to them, how it impacts their job and their future.
Make sure you are sincere and share your experiences and turmoil with the bad news. Express your feelings and relate personally to the
news. A short personal story specifically relating to the news can bond the audience and create rapport. Don't go off on a tangent and make it all about you.
Provide facts that support decisions and create an understanding of how we got to where we are.
Next, give the audience some time to soak it all in, while clarifying next steps or repercussions.
Next, facilitate open and honest discussion about the news. Be accountable for next steps and agree to be transparent.
Finally, recognize the audience for what they have been through and are about to go through. Leave the group on a positive note.