It’s been said that the medium is the message (or “massage” as quipped by Marshall McLuhan). So when you have an important message to communicate, whether you’re already a business leader, or want to practice the skills you need in order to become one, then it’s time to focus on the form as much as the content.
The “how” of communicating is often just as, or more important, than “what” is being said. Effective communicators know this, and follow a handful of heuristics that make a huge impact on what they get out of their interactions with others. Whether it’s for sharing information, giving instructions, or asking questions, you too will be better equipped after reading about the secret techniques of expert communicators!
- Walk the walk, if you talk the talk.
If you want people to put stock in what you say, you have to back up your words with actions.
People may give you the benefit of the doubt initially, but if you don’t follow through with your promises and match your behaviour to what you say, then they’ll quickly lose their confidence in you. This means that they’ll be less likely to put any weight in your words in the future.
If you feel there’s a growing divide between what you talk about and how you act, be sure to swiftly correct this before you do irreparable damage to your reputation, and your ability to communicate effectively!
Have you ever lost confidence in someone over something like this?
- Keep it simple, silly!
Have you ever listened to a technical presentation, or read through a manual, and felt yourself becoming unfocused? Dense and complicated material can be a barrier to getting across what you have to say.
Particularly in an information age where we are inundated with new info practically every moment, be mindful of your audience’s appreciation for simple and straightforward communication. Distill your sentiments into the fewest words possible. Keep communication at a minimum, and try to have just one interaction for each idea; don’t give people too much at a time or they won’t retain all of it.
Mottos and mnemonics are great ways to get your ideas to stick in someone else’s head, and they’re much more approachable than a wall of text!
How can you short-form your biggest ideas?
- Use YOUR words!
As much as we sometimes want to channel other successful speakers to glean something of their expertise, the truth is that part of what makes a great speaker unique among others is just that: they’re unique in how they speak!
You have thoughts and ideas that no one else has, and you should express them in ways no one else does. Not only will you be more distinguished in your communication, you will come across as genuine. That reality grabs people’s attention; unlike a copy-pasted boilerplate, being yourself makes people feel connected to what you say, because it sounds like it’s coming from an actual person, with their own personality.
What sort of idiosyncrasies set you apart when it comes to communicating?
- Put a face to your name.
Personal connection isn’t just about word choice, it’s also about making time to be with your audience face-to-face.
In this day and age, so much of our communication is digital. Emails, texts, posts; it’s easy to start to feel disconnected from the person behind the message when walls of screens and cables separate you from them.
If you want to draw people in and break through the monotony of virtual talk, then make sure you’re doing your best to humanize the experience. That means having in-person meetings or visits, phone calls instead of texts, video chats instead of email, etc. Just because the internet connects us, doesn’t mean it’s the best way to be connected.
Are you taking the time to be visible to your audience?
- Listen to the entirety of the other person
It should go without saying that communication is just as much about listening as it is about speaking.
Listen for cues in the other person’s body language, tone, and word choice. Especially if you’re in a position of authority over them, they may be reluctant to say something they don’t think you want to hear. But if you want to honestly gauge the effect your words are having on them, then don’t just listen to whether they agree or not.
Not only can you get better feedback about the thoughts you’re sharing if you listen to them as whole, but when a person feels that you are actively paying attention to them, and not distracted or dismissive, they will pay more attention and be more involved in the conversation themselves!
All of these tricks help create a feedback loop of better communication, better results, and better performance. Be simple and direct in your own voice, and say what you actually intend with a personal touch. Listen, if you want others to listen too. And above all, keep practicing these strategies. The importance of your message to others is only as important as you make your approach to effective communication!