We are always communicating. Body language, gestures, tone, wardrobe, words you speak and the words on a page including images and posts on social media, all convey a message. And too often the message is mixed, lacks clarity and whatever we might have wanted to get across is lost in the confusion.
This article is part of our challenge for August, Simplify! It gives you a quick and simple approach to get your message across in a clear and powerful way. Before we get started, take a deep breath and clear your mind. Be open to new ideas.
Communication is more than talking. The definition of communication is the exchange of ideas and information; the root of communication is Latin, communicare, meaning, ‘to share.’ I like thinking of communication as ‘sharing’ because it shifts your focus to a 2 way exchange.
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Albert Einstein
In our first post, Simplify. Everything, I talked about the difficulty in keeping things simple. It is harder to identify that one thing or your most important priority. This is true with messaging and communication. It takes clarity and confidence to drill down to the points you want to share and create a compelling message. In the workplace people think that by talking more, using large words or technical jargon, makes them look more important, or the subject more complicated, making them an expert. What really happens is their message is lost and the learning opportunity is swallowed up in the jargon. And they lose the connection and credibility.
Another scenario is that when you are not super clear on what you want to say or you do not really know the information well, you may end up talking out your ideas and by doing so, you lose the receiver in the process, either by using to many words, confusing the message, or conveying something you never intended.
I know this scenario all too well. When I decided I wanted to be a better speaker, I sought out speaking opportunities to practice. I spoke to different types of audiences and quickly learned that speaking and writing are very different. First we can talk much faster than we read and the use of stories or metaphors created a more compelling message that droning on with wordy or academic descriptions. Our brain naturally thinks in images, so using metaphors and stories is more engaging. I want to share some tips I learned.
[tweet_box design=”box_09″]Your message needs to follow Einstein’s advice – keep it simple, but not simpler.[/tweet_box]
Here are few rules to consider when communicating.
- Know your audience.
Even if you are talking to one person, how do they like to receive information? Are they driven by facts or do they like stories? Keep in mind that men do like to use fewer words than women. Deborah Tannen spoke about this in her book, You Just Don’t Understand: Mean and Women in Conversation. Even if your audience is more fact based, they will also enjoy stories to drive a point home or to convey the emotion around the message.
- Have a goal for your communication.
What is your primary objective in your message? Here is where most people fall short. There is usually too much extraneous information and not enough facts, details that matter. Once you know your audience and know how they like to receive information, decide what impact you want from this message. Is their call to action; do you want them to feel something, do something or change something?
- Be direct.
Say what you came to say. This is hard for some people. Using a fact based style of communicating is very helpful in work situation when your goal is to give information. Use a logical structure to convey the information. For example, if you want to set an appointment, state the day and time like this, “ next Thursday, Sept 15th … “ it is orderly and helps your receiver quickly ‘see’ their calendar in their mind and consider that time. Resist wanting to explain why that day or time works for you. Keep that information out of this piece of the communication so you can get agreement and confirmation of that time.
Keeping your communication simple will help you achieve your goals and establish your credibility.
There is so much more we can talk about these 3 simple guidelines as well as so much more on body language, facial gestures and other tips on messaging. Stay connected, sign up for our webinars and we will cover this, and other tips to being an effective high performance leader.
Keep it simple this month, rise to the challenge to Simplify!
Cynthia Howard RN, CNC, PhD is a Performance Expert and Executive Coach who helps leaders and organizations develop high performance leadership for consistent results. Stop spinning your wheels! Contact Dr. Howard for as complimentary consultation, www.eileadership.org