The Seven Ingredients of Highly Effective Communication
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” That’s a quote from the playwright George Bernard Shaw.
Have you ever talked to someone only to discover, later and through the grapevine, that they completely misunderstood you?
Or, have you ever presented something important, something that is intended to be direction setting, to your team only to discover (later) that no one can remember what you said?
In the age of remote working, video conferencing, and instant messages — have you found yourself wondering if anyone is truly paying attention at all?
It’s impossible — impossible — to lead well without learning to communicate well. Those who can communicate well often find that they end up leading.
Fortunately, good communication is a skill anyone can grow in.
Seven Ingredients for Effective Communication
There are seven ingredients for effective communication with your team. Like riding a bike, they may take some focus and practice at first. But with practice, they can become second nature.
The First: Understand your audience.
Know who you are talking to, their concerns or interests, and what approach will best communicate to them.
- Who am I talking to and what do they need or want right now?
The Second: Have a clear message.
Be crystal clear about your core message. Everything you say or write should support that message. Be very careful about (or just eliminate) anything that doesn’t.
- What is it that I need to communicate to them?
The Third: Know what you want to accomplish.
When you speak or write — know in advance what results you want. It isn’t enough to just deliver a message. If you don’t know what you want, they probably won’t either. If you don’t say it, you can’t expect them to guess accurately.
- What is the single most important outcome that I need to accomplish with this message?
The Fourth: Cultivate healthy confidence.
Healthy confidence is a combination of belief, ability, action, and humility. If you lack belief in yourself — practice. If you lack ability — ask for help. If you lack action — create accountability. If you lack humility (and are somehow able to recognize this) — communicate into new mediums or to new audiences. It’ll remind you that you don’t know what you don’t know.
- Which of the following is my most important area of growth right now: Belief, Ability, Action, or Humility?
The Fifth: Be clear and concise.
The clearer you are on what needs to be said and what you need to accomplish — the easier it is to say less and communicate abundantly well.
- In one or two sentences, what is the key message I want to communicate?
The Sixth: Have a call to action.
What do you want a listener or reader to do with what you’ve said? Tell them. People are more likely to act when you’ve made the right action obvious.
- What response do I want from this audience?
The Seventh: Communicate frequently.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. But most of the time people just forget. Repeat important messages regularly. Don’t assume you only have to say something once.
- What different methods or approaches can I use to repeat or reinforce my message?
“Not all who wander are lost.” But your audience probably is.
I used to serve on the State Licensing Board for Psychologists. Part of our job was to review ethics exams of new applicants. In every group of exams, there tended to be at least one applicant who had clearly not studied.
How did we know? Because of how long and effuse their answers were. People who studied answered the questions directly. Those who didn’t hoped that they’d wander across the answer the more they wrote. Sometimes that worked but it didn’t inspire confidence.
Too many people start e-mails, lead meetings, or give presentations with only a vague sense of what they are trying to accomplish, what they are trying to say, or what will connect to their audience. They wander towards their point hoping that will be enough.
The very best communicators are ruthlessly on point.
You can be too.
Take good care,
P.S. This is my call to action. This article is adapted from a chapter called The Skills of Persuasion which is found in my new book, The Successful New CEO. For a limited time, I’m making this available for free. You pay shipping. Click here, if you’d like to receive a free copy of The Successful New CEO.
Originally published at https://www.christianmuntean.com on July 6, 2021.