June is Effective Communication Month
How appropriate that June is effective communication month as we are halfway through the year. What have you done this year to enhance your ability to communicate with impact and influence? Do you know the cost of not communicating effectively, and are you willing to continue increasing this cost by not doing anything?
The good news, you still have six months to make an investment in your development and the results you receive from your conversations and the relationships you continue to build.
The bad news, we don’t know what we don’t know. Most of us believe when we speak we’re heard. We believe when we’re comfortable or know our message, our listeners have a positive perception of us. Be very careful with this concept. Just because you communicate a message doesn’t guarantee your listener understands your message the way you want them to experience it.
Professional athletes, actors and musicians all understand the value of feedback, practice, feedback and more practice. They understand their careers depend on how they perform every day. They also realize they can’t accomplish success on their own and they seek out coaches throughout their career.
We’re no different than these professionals. The only difference I can see is every day for us is game day. We need to perform every day in high-stakes situations.
Maybe if our job and income relied solely on how we communicate, we’d focus more on taking our communication from good to great.
I can’t think of a better time than now to take a closer look at how you communicate.
10 Steps to Begin Making an Investment into Your Communication
1. Involve your listeners, engage and connect. Ask open-ended questions. Only speak when you see your listeners’ eyes. Know when to stop talking and start listening.
2. Opening message. Make an immediate connection with your listeners. Ask them for their immediate interaction and tell them what is in it for them if they do interact. Avoid opening with the statement, “I am here today to talk about …” This statement invites your listener to doing anything but listen to you.
3. K.N.O.W. your listeners. Do your homework and follow the acronym K.N.O.W. before every conversation.
- What do you listeners know about your topic?
- What do they need to know about your topic?
- What’s their opinion about your topic?
- Who are they?
4. Every word counts, every pause counts. Think before you speak. Speak in short, clear and bullet sentences. Less is more. When you take time to pause, you’re able to clearly hear your listeners’ expectations. Use your listeners’ words. Pause to get to the point and honor your listeners’ time.
5. Speak less, listen more. We get caught up in our message and only communicate what we want to accomplish. There is a wealth of knowledge to learn from others. If you can’t write three new ideas you learn from your listeners at the end of every week, you’re missing opportunities to grow professionally and personally.
6. Confidence, credibility and trust. Speak to be heard! Confidence is perceived through your posture and voice. Credibility is perceived through your words and pauses. Trust is perceived through your eye connection. Are your delivery skills polished or is it time for a brush-up?
7. Authenticity. Be genuine. Trust what your listeners want is the real you. It’s easier for them to relate to your message if they can relate to you.
8. Closing message. Ask for a call to action. Be specific and concise. Leave your listeners wanting more.
9. Videotape yourself this month. See and hear what your listeners see and hear. Is what you’re saying consistent with how you’re saying it? Nine out of 10 times how you feel will be inconsistent with how your listeners perceive you. If you don’t take a close look at yourself, development will not occur.
10. Ask for balanced feedback. This month seek out balanced feedback from your peers, associates, clients, friends and family. Don’t accept feedback that sounds like, “Nice job.” “It went well.” “You sounded good.” Specifically ask what you did well, what you said that was perceived as good. Ask for feedback that focuses on a specific behavior you want to enhance. Without balanced feedback, we get comfortable and become lazy.