Have you ever heard people say: “if only I was told it in that way, then I would have understood”? The next question that comes to mind is: “is your company losing money when an employee or Manager does not communicate effectively or understand your message”. Our response is: “yes, absolutely – communication affects profits!” Whether it is to convey standard work procedures, business changes, performance standards, or quality requirements to a supplier, effective communication in business, is essential.
What is Effective Communication?
Effective communication is commonly associated with the ability to relay business information amongst people (employees, suppliers, investors, customers, or any other key stakeholders), in a manner that the intended message is understood in the correct context of the business. Here are 7 practical tips for you.
1. Know your Audience
It is important to understand your target audience before selecting your communication method. Understand what appeals to your target group and how they will potentially relate to the message. Factor in the diversity and potential language barriers that may exist. Select the type of communication suitable to your targeted group. It could include, for example, a letter, face-to-face or one-on-one communication, a telephonic discussion, a memo, an email, an online meeting, a text, a team briefing, a newsletter, social media, or training can be used. When you communicate, remember to use positive and open body language.
2. Prepare and Test
Prepare your communication. The choice of words is key. What you say and how you say it does matter. Please keep it simple. Never assume that people understand. Instead, test your message to see if the intended message is understood in the manner you have planned. Ask your test audience for feedback through paraphrasing. This will assist you in assessing your level of understanding and will enable you to modify your message where necessary.
Timing is important. Select the appropriate time to communicate, to ensure that staff or your audience are attentive and not preoccupied.
4. Limit your Information and Pace Yourself
There are times when a message can become lost due to too much content. Or as the saying goes “lost in translation”. Be concise and if verbal communication is used, speak audibly using simple language. Remember, to speak at a reasonable pace. Not too fast or too slow.
5. Use Visual Aids
Some people understand communication best through visual aids. Visual aids assists in reinforcing or emphasizing a particular point or part of the message being conveyed. Examples include pictures, posters, infographics, diagrams, and video clips. Slide presentations can incorporate these examples of visual aids and are also used to facilitate communication.
6. Active Listening
If verbal communication is used, allow for questions to enable two-way communication and clarify where needed. Listen carefully to the questions raised. If you are unable to answer a particular question, then do not answer. Rather jot it down and commit to providing the person with feedback at a later date. Providing an incorrect answer, will discredit you and reduce the level of trust.
7. Dealing with a Difficult Audience Member
If challenged within a group meeting, remain calm and stick to the facts. Maintain respect and stop the discussion, note the concern, and state that a separate discussion can be held after that, if appropriate. If the person becomes disrespectful, then this needs to be addressed with his / her immediate senior.
Your Next Step
There are many resources available online on effective communication, which can help you to improve your communication personally and also in your organization. The key is to recognize the value of effective communication and the benefits that it can yield both in your personal growth and in the organization. The next step is to take action to improve.
All of the best!