This week we continue our journey to peak performance as a leader with step 5 (and chapter 5 of my book) – how to make sure you are communicating effectively

Almost everything you do in business is done in relation to other people ultimately. Whether that be your suppliers, your customers, the people you work with or people you build relationships with in a general sense.

So in this week’s blog I’d like to share a few thoughts and ideas from my new book on how you can ensure you’re communicating in the most positive way.

Communication actually starts with a focus on understanding others first. Empathy is your starting point here, as it is important to understand someone’s position before getting your message across. This works with customers, where we need to understand their issues and needs first. It relates to our people, where we continually need to appreciate their position. It’s difficult to get our messages across if we treat the other as a blank canvas, so always look to understand first.

One great tool for this are our 6 friends, the open questions – who, what, where, why, when and how. Make a conscious effort to build these into your communication and relationships, so you can “open” people up more and find out more about them first. These are very supportive in developing your empathetic skills, which will help you to stand in other’s shoes and see things from their perspective.

In communication too, how much time are you spending emailing when you could be speaking on the phone or face to face? How much time are you spending on the phone when you could be speaking face to face?

Research has shown that 55% of our communication is down to body language, 38% is down to tonality and 7% to the words we use. This would mean that email is leaving out 93% or our communication! Now I actually believe the research is too old and flawed to generalise in this way, but the important fact is that we do need all three forms of communication to effectively get our messages across.

This is why I encourage any business to bring their teams and people together at least once a week to share messages using all three forms of communication. The meetings can be short and focused, as should all meetings be (more of that in the book!) and doing this will make them a worthwhile use of everybody’s time. Don’t become a business whose culture is based too much around email communication. Use more human styles of communication to engage people – present, meet, face to face and phone calls. 

And sometimes that communication will be you standing in front of a group of people to present! This may make you twitchy, as 75% of you will have glossophobia, a fear of public speaking (the most common phobia!).

Presenting yourself and your business in the best possible way is, in my experience, one of the top 5 business skills to have. To become a stronger presenter it’s about focusing on 6 things:

  1. To prepare and plan effectively. It’s said by some that this is 90% of your focus. Whatever the % figure, this is critical and will help with point 2.
  2. Building your confidence. You can see a previous blog on this area here.
  3. Work on skills to engage your audience and keep them interested.
  4. Use your voice and language to land your messages clearly. Telling stories is a really good way to support this.
  5. Use your body and all the physical tools to support you well. This includes flip charts, props, presentation slides and of course you!
  6. Finally keep a really strong focus on the results you want to achieve. Begin with the end in mind, as Steve Covey would say. Then work hard to achieve those results.

Communication is at the heart of everything we do in our businesses, so working on this skill truly is time well spent.

If I can support you in improving you with your communication skills, please drop me a line.