to help you
Say What You Mean
Techniques for communicating complex ideas
so well your audience can't ignore you.
JUMP START YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Are some of your good ideas stuck inside your head?
Many executives tell me they struggle to ‘say what they mean' particularly in documents. They tell me they
- Know their area well
- Are respected for having good ideas
- Are trusted to ‘deliver'
Yet they are frustrated that their communication efforts do not deliver the results they need. They
- Can often say what they mean verbally, but struggle to engage leaders with their formal communication
- Don't know how to get what is in their head onto paper in a way that engages decision makers
- Spend too much time reworking documents and explaining themselves rather than discussing pivotal issues
Say What You Mean includes
✔️ 6 short video lessons, each focusing on one idea you can apply immediately
✔️ 6 simple but powerful challenges to help you make changes in your own work
✔️ Examples to illustrate what to do and what not to do
✔️ A download to accompany each idea to keep as a reference
GET MORE DONE WITHOUT WORKING HARDER6 ideas to help you stop burying important messages under meaningless clutter
A BIT ABOUT DAVINA
I love what I do.
I have had the pleasure of helping smart people all over the world to clarify and communicate complex ideas for the past 20+ years.
I began this work when I joined McKinsey & Company in Hong Kong as a Communication Specialist and have built a team of eight here in Australia that helps others see their good ideas get the traction they deserve.
The structured approach that I teach, the So What Strategy, helps people from almost every discipline.
I know this because not only do I teach, I get in the trenches alongside my clients and prepare the communication with them.
It offers a universal thinking process that enables you to articulate the breakthrough lurking beneath the surface of your communication.
Scroll down to hear what participants say.
ASK ANYTHING YOU WANT ...
Frequently Asked Questions
Clarity First is a powerful program for experts who want to engage others in complex ideas.
Participants typically join when they realise they need to communicate to more sophisticated and demanding audiences. They are capable and motivated professionals who have often not been taught how to communicate at senior levels of business.
Here is an extensive list of 'FAQ's.
Email us any time if you have further questions.
What will I learn?
Clarity First helps you clarify and communicate complex ideas in any setting.
By adopting our three-part, So What Strategy approach you will learn how to design your communication strategy, develop your one-page storyline and deliver your communication powerfully in any setting. The program works as follows:
Accelerator Program - 1 hour of short modules introducing our approach while also offering insights to help you 'get around' early challenges with using and applying the approach in your world.
Core Curriculum - 3 hours of short videos plus challenges and potential extension activities. We work through the So What Strategy framework in a step-by-step fashion, which means:
- Design your strategy. Clarify your purpose, understand your audience and plan your process
- Develop your storyline. Think through the different storyline elements as you iterate your way to the level of clarity that enables you to communicate clearly and powerfully.
- Deliver your communication. Once your thinking is clear, you can then convert your storyline into an email, paper, PowerPoint or other type of communication deliverable.
Sprint Program - 7 hours of recorded workshops plus exercises that help you transition theory into practice both by consolidating your understanding of the core principles and introducing techniques for using patterns as a 'hack' to create clarity faster. If you are part of our Intensive of Foundation Pathways, you can complete these modules live.
Momentum Program - an extra monthly coaching session for Momentum Members only where we go more deeply into the approach to cater to the more advanced knowledge and skill of these members.
What will I achieve?
We regularly see people cut both the length of time it takes to prepare their communication and the time it takes to get a result halve.
Here are some examples:
- Anthony's Chief Financial Officer started getting responding to his emails within the hour rather than providing delayed or no responses.
- Cerise started seeing her Steering Committees agreeing with her recommendations the first time she presented them.
- Stefan went from preparing 50+ pages for his business cases to preparing just 2 pages - and getting a fast 'yes'.
- Rebecca and her team cut the amount of time it takes to prepare board papers by 60%.
- Javed was told that his finance paper was the best the CEO had seen in his 3.5 years with the company.
- Alice, an analytics professional, who is not a native English speaker, has become the 'go to' person in her team when they are preparing any important communication.
How is Clarity First different from other communication programs?
Clarity First provides a ‘go to’ framework that helps you clarify your thinking before communicating in any situation.
We see good communication as an outcome of clear thinking, that emerges as a result of a simple and repeatable process.
This means no more drafting long papers or PowerPoints and then iterating endlessly on them, but rather using a structured technique to map your ideas onto a single page, socialise it and only then prepare your final piece of communication with speed.
We don't see the communication itself is not the be-all, rather the ‘be-all’ is the impact you have.
We are delighted when you work through our process and realise you do not need to communicate at all.
This happens more often than you might expect.
Who is the program for?
Clarity First is for anyone who wants to engage their stakeholders in complex ideas.
Participants are smart professionals who have never been taught the skills they need to communicate in a way that engages other busy executives, particularly decision makers.
Current participants include those in analytics, consulting, project management, the law, organisational development, research, technology and more.
They typically have 15 or more years' experience, but include professionals with anywhere from 5 years to 30+ from all corners of the globe.
Who facilitates the program?
Davina Stanley founded and facilitates this program with occasional support from her team.
Davina learned the foundations of her craft at McKinsey & Company, and has been helping technical experts to communicate clearly for more than 20 years.
She and her business partner, Gerard Castles, lead a team of 8 structured communication specialists based in Australia who increasingly travel internationally to serve clients from a wide range of industries.
Where Davina is not able to do so, her team members (most of whom are McKinsey trained) will provide document feedback during the program.
Davina and Gerard are the authors of The So What Strategy, which offers what they see as the seven most commonly used storyline patterns in business.
What support do you provide?
We offer regular live working sessions where we work through a challenge together. These are typically held twice monthly at times that suit almost any time zone and are available to all program members.
We offer yet more sessions to members of the Momentum level, who have graduated from the initial 'Core' level.
The small number of people who opt in to join the Foundation Membership also receive a quarterly one-on-one coaching session with Davina. They also receive email feedback up to six pieces of communication across a year.
I can only offer 8 places at this level at any one time and announce opportunities to join to our waitlist only.
How long will it take to complete the program?
This will vary depending upon how much time you invest.
Participants progress as their work and life schedules allow, so it is hard to predict: some binge through the modules quickly, others prefer to take their time and digest the concepts thoroughly, iterating between learning and doing.
Having said that, three months will enable you to cover the basics at a steady clip, six will give you a strong foundation and a year of fairly regular attention will see your communication transform.
Why is it a 'program' and not a 'course' with a finite end date?
The new flexible program design enables people to flex to your busy schedule while also offering more structure for those who like a deadline.
All three potential program pathways lean on 20+ years of helping a wide range of professionals improve their communication I have found that hearing about an idea in a workshop or a video is a poor substitute for learning a small number of ideas that can be used straight away.
By introducing concepts in small pieces over a period of time, allowing opportunities to use the ideas, ask questions and receive feedback we see far more sustainable skill building.
I also see how learning is derailed by urgent business priorities while also see the value of having a clear structure and deadlines so offer three potential pathways.
Classic Pathway - self-directed learning enabling you to pick up the program and put it down as your schedule and priorities allow.
Intensive Pathway - supported and directed learning providing a clear set of deadlines to complete both the Core and Sprint parts of the program. Monthly or annual extension is available for those who want or need extra time.
Foundation Pathway - highly supported learning. Members have access to all aspects of the Classic and Intensive Pathways as well as extra 1-1 coaching and document feedback from me. They receive 4 x 30-minute coaching sessions plus the opportunity to submit 6 documents for feedback.
Why is the program divided into levels?
This enables us to tailor our live and recorded materials to suit your learning stage.
Those in the Core Program want to understand the concepts and start using them straight away in regular and potentially routine communication.
Sprint Members are ready to take the ideas to new heights as they apply the ideas in a wider range of settings, particularly using our seven powerful storylining patterns.
Momentum Members are working toward mastering the approach in higher stakes situations.
How much time do participants need to invest in the program?
Participants typically invest 1- 2 hours per week for focused learning while also practicing their new skills at work (so they can get that time back really quickly).
Participants tell me they quickly ‘get back’ the time invested as they answer fewer clarification questions, fight fewer mis-fires and have a familiar and universal process to use when preparing their communication.
Having said that, I do observe that most participants' interaction with the program varies as other priorities take them away.
I regularly see times when they 'binge' and then times when they rest before coming back.
How is the content delivered?
Participants learn via a mix of independent and group learning (should they choose to join in for our live working sessions).
- The core materials outline our approach step by step.
- Live - recorded - working sessions focus on applying the ideas learned in the core materials.
- Supplementary materials in the library provide stretch, examples and related insights.
Here is an outline of how it works:
The core learning materials are housed within a structured online course, which are divided into two parts:
The Accelerator modules - 1 hour of short modules to accelerate your start so you can get the general idea and start using simple ideas immediately.
The Core Curriculum - 3 hours' worth of short powerful modules, which walk you step by step through the So What Strategy while also offering examples of the ideas in action.
Each video and a challenge that asks you to think.
You need to score 70% or more of the questions from each challenge to move to the next module.
We also provide notes to download as well as closed captions and transcripts for the videos for those who like to read as well as listen.
Inside the library we offer supplementary learning materials, storyline examples, patterns and more extercises for those who want to stretch themselves.
Inside the Recordings area, we offer recordings of our live working sessions along with sample documents we created that may provide a framework for your own communication.
These recordings from our interactive sessions do more than provide sample documents. They offer insights into both strategies and tactics that other experienced professionals are applying that will be relevant to you and your work also.
For example: have you thought about which ideas to leave in your drafts in the hope that your stakeholders edit them out ... and leave the key ideas that matter to you alone?
Working sessions are available regularly. All you need to do is log in and register. We encourage you to register for everything even if you are unsure whether you can attend. The regular reminders in your diary will help keep the program front and centre, even if you are unable to make every single session.
How do I get extra support?
You will find you get lots of attention during the live sessions, but if you are looking for more, we suggest taking a Foundation Membership.
This 'VIP' level provides quarterly one-on-one coaching as well as email feedback on your own work.
What does the program cost?
There are three participation levels, allowing those who want extra opportunities to work directly with Davina to receive more attention.
The Intensive Pathway is available for $990 including taxes. It provides three months' access to the full program plus six live workshops. In 2021 these are scheduled for 8am and 5pm on six Wednesdays starting from 22 September. Participants are also welcome at our regular Tuesday working sessions scheduled at the same times.
The classic program costs $149 per month, or $1,490 for a full year's access, including taxes. Australians, Kiwis and South Africans enjoy a 'home ground advantage', by receiving a discount that balances out the currency differential.
I offer a small number of Foundation Memberships. This is available only for an annual fee of $2,990.
This level includes everything available in the Classic Program as well as a quarterly 30-minute 1-1 coaching session and 6 opportunities for email feedback per year.
There are a couple of other things to note about the payment process:
- Tax invoices and receipts can be provided
- Registration can be confirmed with a credit card payment during the registration window, or bank deposit, a purchase order or a formal email from the person responsible for payment explaining when payment will arrive.
Go here to join the waitlist - or to register, if registration is currently open.
What are my payment options?
You have two options:
#1 - If paying monthly or annually, you can pay with credit card via our secure payment portal on the website. We use Stripe as our payment gateway, which is well recognised as a secure and easy to use platform.
#2 - If paying annually, you may submit a purchase order to us as evidence of your commitment to the program. We understand that corporate procurement processes can take time, and allow you to start the program once the PO is provided.
Why are registrations not open year round?
Providing specific opportunities to join the program provides us with a far greater ability to serve everyone, so we limit registrations to two short windows each year.
If we open the doors at specific times only, we enable ourselves to focus more fully on program participants the rest of the year.
We can't do our best, as a team, if our focus is split between continuously onboarding new participants and simultaneously supporting those already in the program.
Please check our information page for the current closing date and time.
How does the guarantee work?
If you get into the program and realise that it does not do what we say it will do for you, please let us know within the first 14 days.
We will refund you in full, no questions asked.
We hope you will explain what went wrong so we can learn from your experience, but will automatically provide a 100% refund regardless.
How do I register?
Click THIS LINK and you will either be taken to the registration page during our 'open period' or to our 'waitlist' page to be notified when registrations reopen.