Good communication is essential to the success of any team activity.
If two outfielders don’t communicate when racing to catch a fly ball, chances are they’ll either collide with each other or the ball will drop somewhere between them. If CEOs, managers, and employees don’t communicate clearly and lucidly, the resulting confusion and disarray could well lead to lost revenue and, if not remedied, over time could cause the business to fail.
In the age of social media, it’s increasingly important (and increasingly difficult) to make sure that communications are clear and unambiguous. Any mistakes in your messaging can and probably will be amplified through social media channels where both legitimate critics and trolls will pick them apart and cast your business in an unfavorable light.
Internally, making sure that you are communicating to your staff what your expectations for a particular project or event are is crucial to ensuring that your company mission is realized and your stakeholders are satisfied.
But, communicating well is not as easy as it may sound. Writing a direct, concise e-mail or memo is a tortuous process for many people. Giving a speech that engages and motivates rather than causing listeners to nod off is not an easy task. We’ve all sat in meetings where a droning, repetitive, and longwinded speaker makes keeping our eyelids open a herculean chore.
So, how do you work toward good communication—written or verbal—in your business:
- Seems obvious, but the first thing is making this a priority for supervisors and staff alike.
- As a new employee, seek out more senior staff members who are strong writers to mentor you on how to effectively communicate in the manner and style the company prefers. These mentors will look over memos and other important communications and offer edits and suggestions.
- Similarly, if you have an important presentation, find someone who will coach you on how to maximize your talk.
- Invest in a book about effective business writing. There are many.
- Watch a few compelling TED talks to see how the speakers organize their speeches in order to keep their audiences from falling asleep.
- When in doubt, pare back. A business memo is not the place to show off your extensive vocabulary and your mastery of arcane adjectives.
- Proofread your messages before you hit “send.” Typos, grammatical errors, and sloppy syntax can obscure your ideas and make you look less than professional.
- Read your writing out loud to yourself to help you catch mistakes you might miss when you’re poring over the same sentences for the hundredth time.
- Keep it professional even as you’re striving for an accessible tone. This applies to both your written and verbal communications.
- Use anecdotal material to get your point across. Illustrating your point by giving real world examples will help your audience understand and remember what you say.
Achieving consistently good communications in your business should be one of your major management goals. As John Adair says, “Communication is the sister of leadership.”