Monday, 04 March 2019
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
George Bernard Shaw
TO COMMUNICATE WITH MORE AUTHORITY…HAVE THE COURAGE OF YOUR CONVICTIONS.
Whether you’re trying to influence your team or those beyond your immediate sphere, such as a VC or prospective client, the golden rule still holds – you cannot convey the power of your ideas if you don’t believe in them fully yourself. Once you’ve aligned yourself internally, state your ideas without hedging your points. Never lead in with an apology - and throw out all tentative language and caveats. Whatever your main point is, start there and don’t bury it in waffling background information – you are more likely to get people’s attention with clarity, especially if they are busy. And should you get pushback, see it as an opportunity to reaffirm your points, calmly and politely, while acknowledging the other’s perspective. Authority isn’t always about getting the outcome you want - but it is about expressing your ideas with confidence and passion, regardless of the reception.
TO ENSURE YOU’RE REALLY BEING HEARD…TALK SO PEOPLE WILL LISTEN.
Dr Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, argues that, "Great communicators read their audience carefully to ensure they aren't ploughing on with a message that people aren't ready to hear. Talking so people will listen means you adjust your message on the fly to stay with your audience: what they're ready to hear and how they're ready to hear it”. So, next time you feel a lack of energy in an interaction, pull back from pressing home your point and think about engaging your audience instead – whether a group or an individual - in a dialogue, where everyone can exchange ideas. If you talk over someone’s subtle cues of disinterest, then you risk broadcasting into a void. Need a failsafe way to gauge whether you’re really communicating your points? Just look at whether the person you’re talking to is asking questions for a clear indicator of engagement.
TO IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING A QUICK RESPONSE…PICK YOUR CHANNELS CAREFULLY.
It’s frustrating not to be able to communicate with people when we want to – and of course we have to factor in their own priorities and schedules to this. However, a simple way to increase the likelihood of a prompt response – and foster better communication - is to clue into and respect people's preferred communication methods. Perhaps your client hates using the phone and by never picking up is trying to communicate that she would be happier to be contacted by email or Skype – you can leave a hundred voicemails, but it’s easier to look at what her method in contacting you is for the clue as to how to get her ear more easily. And if you really want to maximise efficiency, keep a “To Talk To” list for them and aggregate all the points you need to discuss with them in single sessions – avoiding a trail of emails, calls, messages or meetings where information can get stuck - and streamlining the flow between you.
TO BRING ENERGY TO MEETINGS AND PRESENTATIONS…GET PERSONAL.
Sooner or later you’re going to have to speak to a group of people – whether that’s a meeting, a presentation or an investor pitch. If you want it to be a success it’s better to focus on communication rather than performance as your goal – and one thing cited time and again by great orators is the idea of speaking to groups as individuals. To really engage the room you have to develop a level of intimacy in your approach that makes everyone there feel as if you're speaking directly to them. Think of your speech as a one-to-one encounter, and try to eliminate the distraction of the crowd to deliver your message personally. Rather than concentrate on your anxiety or the sea of faces staring up expectantly at you, think about being genuine and full of the kind of energy you would bring to a good conversation with a friend. Corral your focus in this way and you’ll not only bring energy to the interaction - but everyone there along with you as you make your point.
TO OPEN UP A DIALOGUE IN ANY SITUATION…ASK THE RIGHT QUESTION.
Has communication stalled somewhere? Or are you simply wondering how to make a connection with someone? Successful entrepreneurs have long-known the potential of what have been dubbed the “four most powerful words in business”: quite simply, “How can I help?”. It’s a short but deceptively powerful phrase that has the ability to transform communication channels and open up spaces for discussion and idea exchange in even the most difficult or closed encounters. As Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite notes in a piece he wrote recently for the World Economic Forum, “At its heart, it’s a powerful way to fast-track relationships and build goodwill. By offering to help, you cultivate instant rapport and establish an immediate sense of trust. Rather than waiting for someone to prove themselves to you, you take the bull by the horns and prove yourself to them. A foundation is built — with striking speed and efficiency — for future interactions.”