As professional communicators, the majority of us spend our waking hours communicating with others, but not in a meaningful manner that makes us successful communicators. Effective communication requires discipline, practice and most importantly, the ability to listen.
The following six-step approach to effective communicating should help you streamline your thoughts, words and actions and help to become a more effective communicator in the spoken, printed and electronic communication world.
- What is your purpose for communicating? Define it. Are you only sharing information? Or do you need action? If so, what action and by when? Or, do you have intent, such as a call to action?
- Respect for your audience. Are you being clear and concise? Are you avoiding industry jargon that may confuse your recipients? Are you pushing information, i.e., “selling and telling” or pulling information, i.e., “asking and engaging?” For example, do you give others a chance to join your conversation? Do you listen? Do you want to listen? Do you really hear?
- Simplicity. Is your message easy to access? For instance, can people simply skim your email messages to find the key information, or are they faced with a “wall of words” that they have to sort through? Are your messages timely? Do people know how to get in touch with you for more details or where to go for more information? Are you making sure you’re not contributing to the problem of more information overload? (Twitter?)
- Be a credible source. Are you portraying through your oral and written communication that you are to be believable and trusted? Are you doing what you say you will do? Consistently?
- Provide value. Are you communicating the topic in a way that appeals to people’s interests? Are you giving them just-in-time information that will help them do their job or solve their problem? Will they know how to act on the information?
- Have fun. After all, communication is about exchanging ideas, learning new things, meeting new people. All of this should be fun. If communication ceases to be fun, then you are not effectively communicating. Start having some fun today.