August 2, 2020

Sara Rusniak

Running with Rusniak: Communication Tips from the Experts

Communication tips

Effective Communication Is Hard. 

Communication takes effort. If you add in the challenges of being physically separated and relying on virtual communication, it becomes even more difficult. Being an effective communicator is an essential skill for great leaders. Is communication an ability you are regularly seeking to improve? Just like your golf swing, the more you exercise it, the better it will become.

Many of the clients that I work for are executive coaches or professional speakers and trainers. The one thing they all have in common is that they seek to improve the success of the leaders that they work with. Effective communication strategies are a regular topic of discussion, and I benefit from hearing my clients’ tips and tricks. What follows are a few of my favorite communication improvement techniques from these experts.

Expert Tips on How to Communicate Like a Pro

1. Say More, Talk Less. 

Did you know that your message is better received and understood by a recipient when it’s short? To a wordy, over-informer like me, this seems counterintuitive, but it is true.

The next time you have something important to say, write it out first. Then go back and condense it. Then, condense it again. Take out any words that don’t enhance what you’re trying to say. Make it as simple as possible. Take this a step further by removing any ambiguous terms that may convey different meanings to different recipients. A great example of this is the word “just.” One of my clients (Michael Allosso) says to stop using “just” because it diminishes the value of your statement. Don’t tell someone that you’re “just going to be spending the evening with your family,” because it can imply that spending time with your family doesn’t matter.

2. Realize That a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words—Really!   

Another client (Dean Minuto) stresses the importance of using visual reinforcement. His #1 tip is to use visuals to support your messages. The fastest way to get information into someone’s brain is through their eyes. He references studies in brain science that have found information travels 30 times faster through the eyes than through the ears. So, if you’re on a Zoom call, considering using a prop. Sending an email?  Include a photo or diagram. You will dramatically increase your message’s effectiveness if you include something visual.

3. Give Your Full Attention to Listening.

The hardest communication skill for me is pausing to truly listen. Especially now, when in-person communication is so rare, I am continuously tempted to multi-task while on a phone call or video call.

Not fully listening to others on a call negatively impacts communication in several ways. First, others may feel disrespected. Also, we may miss important messages, and micro-messages, shared by others. This causes the original message to lose its effectiveness because we don’t hear it as the speaker originally intended.

How can you eliminate distractions and listen intently? Turn your phone upside down, close other browser windows on your PC, and sit in a quiet room for the call. Do whatever necessary to provide an environment in which you can really listen to one another.

4. Practice. 

The next time you have something important to say is the perfect opportunity to use the above tips.  Make the extra effort and plan your message. It should be concise with visuals to reinforce it. Don’t forget to actively listen to your audience, too, to ensure your message was received as you intended.

Over to you! What is your biggest challenge with communicating effectively? Do you have any tips and tricks to share that have helped you? I’d love to hear from you, so comment here!

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