AbleToTrain by Willing & Able

Effective communication is something that can be learned

Orators with silver tongues are akin to world-class magicians. They use high-quality content, and their enthralling delivery keeps listeners riveted. They understand that touching the heart leads to change, and stirring the imagination leads to action.

But they also know something that others don’t: effective communication is a talent that can be learnt and developed over time. Too many people wrongly assume that effective communication abilities are genetically encoded. 

While specific characteristics can make these abilities easier to learn, there is nothing that the world’s finest communicators have that you cannot obtain via hard work.

Take the time to build the cardinal skills if you want to improve your communication abilities and achieve more influence as a leader.

Prepare for an impactful delivery

After you’ve come up with a new idea, it’s time to work on structuring your message and honing your delivery. How will you introduce a captivating opening and closing line? How would you organize your material so that it is both moving and memorable? Should you employ humour? 

What types of enticing facts should be included? Is it appropriate to tell a story? Remember that your delivery includes both what you say and what you do with your body. Both are important to the success of your overall message.

Sending your draft material to someone you trust for honest, constructive comments is often a smart idea. Once you’ve perfected the content, practice it in front of someone with a keen eye and ear to ensure flawless delivery. Whatever you do, don’t go on the offensive. Put your ego aside and use what you’ve learned to sharpen your saw.

Use active listening to your advantage

A speaker communicates best when he or she actively listens, which allows them to respond more organically to the demands of the audience while also broadening their understanding of the nuanced discussion that is taking place. However, if you’ve convinced yourself that you’re the only person in the room who has something fascinating or worthwhile to say, you’ll lose important opportunities to clarify, provide pertinent examples, and challenge the audience to dig deeper to extract greater value.

Real communication entails deliberate exchanges between all parties involved. If you’re doing all of the talking, you’re not taking advantage of opportunities to build mutual understanding or broaden the reach of your thought leadership. 

Develop rapport by engaging in real dialogue

The majority of people can tell when they are being “spoken at” rather than “talked to.” People are virtually always turned off when they are “spoken at.” Leaders who use lively, interactive dialogues instead of boring lectures build trust and rapport with their followers and make them feel more empathy.

In a trust economy where honored connections are the foundation for building and retaining business, treating communication as an afterthought will result in a needless loss of credibility. 

Check in with surgical follow-up

Following up with your audience in real time is an essential part of learning the four abilities outlined thus far. Even the most skilled communicators are aware of this essential stage. How does one go about doing that in a speech? You check in with your audience to ensure that they “understood” what you were trying to convey. 

One method is to strategically reintroduce the important elements of the presentation at the conclusion to stress them. This is not to say that you should regurgitate a mundane list. Be inventive! For example, you may include many calls to action, each accompanied by an extension of the point.

Another approach to accomplishing this is to solicit feedback and answer audience questions, especially if the engagement includes a live Q&A session. This allows the audience to flesh out any remaining questions, clear up any misunderstandings, and walk away with a stronger sense of accomplishment. If a Q&A session is not possible (and in most situations, it is not), provide a means for the audience to provide anonymous but targeted feedback. You’ll be curious to learn what worked and what didn’t.

Review and evaluate the evaluations following the engagement. Use the constructive feedback to better your next performance and surgically remove anything that isn’t necessary. The more evaluations you receive and examine over time, the better your scalpel will become.