Most organizations struggle with communication. Some don’t even know they have an issue. As with most things, I believe good communication starts at the top. Organizations typically don’t struggle as much with communication roadblocks if they prioritize effective communication as a leadership competency.
Wondering if your organization could use help in this area? Think about the last four or five meetings you attended: Were the leaders concise, yet impactful? Did they get people excited about a project or initiative? Or, did they leave you wishing you had the last 60 minutes of your life back and wondering what is going to happen next? To the HR professionals and leaders reading this: we have put together a few short and easy, yet impactful, tips related to communication.
1. Practice, and gather feedback over time.
Identify three people you trust (either internal or external to your organization) who you email frequently for professional purposes. Ask each of these people for feedback on how you could improve your email communication. After one month of putting this feedback into practice, ask each person if they have noticed any improvement.
2. Identify a mentor.
Whose communication style do you admire? Set up a one-on-one meeting with that individual to get some tips on how they approach communication. See if you can integrate some of their suggestions into your personal communication style. Be sure to practice until you feel comfortable using new or unfamiliar techniques.
3. Summarize your takeaways.
At the end of the next meeting you lead, make a point of summing up the key points and follow-ups to make sure that you captured everything. Ask your audience if anything is unclear and if they have any questions.
4. Practice active listening.
During your next meeting, remind yourself to listen more than you speak. Reframe what others are saying to demonstrate your understanding. Ask relevant questions and engage others in the room who may not be as comfortable voicing their opinions.
5. Mind your body language.
Be aware of your nonverbal communication cues. Ask others if you have any habits or mannerisms that might be distracting. Practice making eye contact and using impactful gestures.
6. Facilitate productive communication.
Take a close look at the way you run meetings. In what ways do the structure and format of the meetings inhibit or promote effective communication? Does it seem like you never get anything accomplished because everyone talks over everyone else, or do members “speak different languages”? Enhance the effectiveness of your meetings by working with the group to establish ground rules for communication.
7. Utilize your supervisor.
Ask your supervisor to join your next presentation and request candid feedback on how you could improve your communication effectiveness. Ask what he/she would’ve done differently. Analyze what wasn’t effective and brainstorm ways to present the information in a more impactful manner.
8. Practice your storytelling.
Stories are sometimes the best way to reach your audience. Statistics and numbers may appeal to very data-driven individuals, but representative stories or anecdotes can be more impactful and inspiring. Try incorporating relevant stories into your communication style and see how your audience reacts.
9. Be prepared.
Whether you are preparing for a sales presentation, kick-off meeting, press release, or internal communication, take the time to outline a strategy. Think about the audience's interests, needs, and concerns. Anticipate obstacles. Define your approach, including what you will say, how you will say it, and what materials and methods you will use to convey the message.