As part of our ongoing commitment to supporting small business and individuals, we wanted to share some information on the topic of communicating effectively, as it is so central to everyone. Whether you are part of a department in a large organisation, trying to build a high performing team, or trying to build real, genuine relationships with your customers, communication gets you everywhere.
All of us, over the course of our days have heard many different people speak on many different topics. At a sub-conscious level, we pick up cues, both verbal and non-verbal that sign-post to us:
- How well the speaker knows the content
- The speaker’s passion regarding the content
- Whether the speaker is genuine or trying to sell something
- Whether the speaker can be trusted or not
- Whether or not we can decode the speakers message
Conjure up images of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. The passion and conviction that he speaks with makes his message so painfully clear that it has become universal and relevant to matter what age you listen to it in.
As you listen, you feel that this man is genuine and can be trusted. It is the passion and clarity in his communication that makes his message so contagious and powerful.
Passion and clarity in communication can be transferred to anything:
If you are trying to hire, and you want to inspire the best people, speaking about your company with passion will excite and engage them to join your team.
Trying to sell a product or service? Speaking with enthusiasm and being crystal clear about how your offering will add value or solve a problem is central to closing the deal.
If there is a big project at work that needs buy in from various stakeholders, there is nothing worse than ambiguity and complexity to hinder buy in.
Effective Communication is the backbone of great leadership and relationships. Effective communicators understand that you need to achieve a clear message, you need to have an authentic self, be trusted and have an affinity to de-clutter complex messages and ideas.
So how do we become an effective communicator?
1) Firstly, we need to remember that through deliberate practice over time, anyone can become good at anything. Effective communication is no different. Be aware of your opportunities: sharing ideas, meetings, presentations, phone calls, emails. Each of these needs to be viewed as an opportunity.
2) Build trust. We build trust in a number of different ways; your words and actions need to be in alignment. Effective communication involves doing what you say, otherwise you will come across as disingenuous and untrustworthy and there is nothing that will break down communication faster than that.
3) Choose the platform for your messages. Should you send an email to someone who only sits a few desks away from you? Will your message be lost if it is sent electronically? Does your message carry an emotional undertone that would be best presented face to face? Electronic distribution usually suits situations where the message in and of itself is clear and simple and largely informational.
4) Reiterate but keep it short and simple. The more important a message is, the more times it needs to be reiterated. Otherwise it will be lost in the storm of information that people have to process each day. Keep messages short, simple and to the point.
5) Develop your ability to communicate complex ideas with clarity. Learning how to simplify a complex idea is an incredibly valuable skill. Being able to draw complex concepts or talk about them with simplicity is something that can be learned through practice and should be highly prioritised.
6) Have a genuine voice. Each of us has our own voice, lingo and mannerisms. Don’t be scared to share that with people. People will respond better to that than they will to a professional corporate voice.
7) Speak with passion and enthusiasm. If you love what you do, and believe in your offering, this will come across when you communicate with your colleagues, customers and suppliers. Passion and enthusiasm are contagious, use it to your advantage.
As it becomes easier and more convenient to communicate electronically, the skills of effective communication deteriorate. It is the same as not using a second language or practicing a musical instrument. If you don’t use it, you lose it. So look for your opportunities to present messages with clarity and simplicity and practice effective communication deliberately.