As you probably already know, communication is one of the biggest common denominators between people who are successful. You can be a brilliant strategist, an expert at streamlined workflow, or the most detail-oriented person in the room, but that isn’t all it takes to be successful in business. You also need to be a confident and concise speaker. Other people have to not just hear what you are saying, but understand it.
How many times have you listened to a speaker, a boss, or a co-worker detail an excellent presentation that fell flat in the room, because the impact just wasn’t there? How many times have you been asked to do something, and not really understood what was being asked of you because the person doing the asking didn’t communicate with clarity or passion?
Confidence is not an easy thing to come by. For some of us it can start in our youth, for some of us it can happen later on in a career when a promotion takes you slightly out of our depth. Feeling challenged by a role is great, it provides growth and new perspectives, but it can also make us reluctant to communicate, fearing that we cannot speak knowledgeably. It can be a struggle for many to overcome impostor syndrome, even many years into a career.
However, there is no quicker way to light a fire under employees, get a co-worker onto your team, and direct the flow of your company than with strong communication skills. The driving force in business is getting those around you to understand the “why” of the situation. It takes work and a conscientious effort every day, but good communication habits can be applied to presentations, work reviews, video-calls, inter-office communication, correspondence, and bonding with others. Try to flex that communication-muscle every day, and results can be instantaneous. Here are some tips to get you started:
All too often people get too wrapped up in their own stories and their own lives to pay attention to what’s going on around them. It’s part of human nature. But that old adage of knowledge being power is a cliche for a reason. The more you know what your audience thinks of you, the more you can adjust your course to connect with them. Listen to the office grumblings, the subtext of water-cooler talk, watch the faces of those that you are speaking to. Ask questions, stimulate conversation, build relationships, and keep what you hear when you listen to yourself. It will build relationships, confidence, and can make the difference between glazed-over eyes in a boardroom and an engaging discussion. The more you can see a clear picture of the way the tide is turning, the more influential you can make your communications with them.
All communication, when you break it down, is either about persuading or enabling. You are either trying to explain to someone how to do something, or you are explaining why that something is important. Once you boil down your own thoughts into that clear question, you have the ability to refine and clarify what you are saying. Are you influencing, or are you facilitating? With a clear and simple picture of your method, confidence in your message will follow.
In almost all areas of life, less is more. Over-communicating will become either white-noise, or confusing. There is research that says most people have the average attention span of 8 seconds. Now, that isn’t to say you need to cram a book full of knowledge into an 8 second presentation, it just means that you need to pare your message down to the basics. Fit a powerful sentence into those 8 seconds, and you can capture the attention of the listener for 8 more.
Watch your body language, too:
There are reams of research on body language being the key to unlocking trust and building bonds with others. Don’t underestimate how a powerful stance can command attention or leaning in and making sincere eye contact can build trust in a one-on-one conversation.