Effective communication is a powerful tool. It can persuade team members to become followers and consumers to become loyal fans. Like a muscle, it's a skill you must work continually to get strong at - and stay good at. Begin by strategising the way you speak, think and write with the following points.
Trust your communication instinct
I'll expand on this more in a minute, but let's begin with a key lesson I believe is often left out of business communication lectures and seminars. You're already a good communicator. You've been letting others know what you want, and how you feel, ever since you learned to talk. Learn to trust your ability to get your point across and communication follows naturally.
Communicate internally as well as externally
Your business isn't really an entity - it's a collection of people working towards a common goal. The stronger their own vision of that goal, the better the business as a whole is able to communicate to customers and clients. In a nutshell, if your employees don't get the message then neither does anyone else.
Leadership communication is the most important factor in a business' overall ability to speak to its audience, because the leaders are the people who understand the message. If you can't get it across to your staff, they won't be able to communicate it to your audience.
Break it down
Sometimes, it helps to look at what you do when you communicate. Examine your existing communication abilities, and challenge yourselves to improve them.
Stuck for ideas? Consider putting your business in an unfamiliar situation. Corporate communication days help you look at your skills from the outside.
Say it again
You wouldn't say “I love you” once, and leave it at that. Well, you might, but if that's how you run your relationships then wedding bells will not be ringing anytime soon. Effective business communication, both internal and external, is all about getting your core message out there on a regular basis. Repeat what you want people to remember, and there's a strong chance they actually will.
We tend to respond well to simple communications, and shy away from confusion. Think of your message as a movie. Is it well structured, with a clear plot and characters your audience can identify with? Or is it all over the place, stuffed with secondary plot lines and unbelievable twists?
Find out what your audience thinks
Effective communication is two-way. That's where the “commune” in the word comes from. On a fundamental level, it's impossible to really connect with someone unless you understand where they're coming from.
Listen to your customers. Talk with your employees. They will have valuable feedback for you, and by asking questions and listening to their answers, you'll also make them feel valued.
Once upon a time
Ask yourself this: what do you remember best? What you did yesterday? Last week? What your other half asked you to buy from the store? Nope. Most of us carry information in the form of stories, and lose everything else by degrees.
The human animal is a storytelling one. Verbal and pictorial histories have passed vital information between generations for thousands of years. It's likely that your brain is hard-wired to take information in in this way, which is probably why you can still remember fairytales from your childhood but not what you promised to get done by Friday.
The storytelling technique works brilliantly for all business communication. Got a message to get across to your staff? Tell them a story that illustrates it memorably. How about your consumers? Advertisers have long recommended thinking of your marketing as a story, starring potential customers. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin…