The Top 5 Checklist
In a previous post, I discussed my journey to realizing that I have slowly become a cultivated communicator. My obsession with words and the performing arts reflect much of that journey. According to Forbes, “It is simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator.” I absolutely agree, and have compiled a list of items that take communication skills to the next level.
1. Try Everything
The biggest difference between a great communicator and cultivated communicator is life experience. This doesn’t mean that you are required to travel the world first (though it wouldn’t hurt). It does mean that you must throw caution to the wind and try things without fear or regret. Whether it is skydiving, listening to unfamiliar music, meeting people from other cultures, or just trying a new food, try it all. The more of a challenge something is for you, the better.
2. Know Your Audience
This topic is harped on by everyone, but I’ll reiterate again (strum strum). Think about the Entire audience, and not just the 1 or 2 people you know well. This is an easy trap to fall into. In a business presentation, you have been discussing the topic with your main point of contact for weeks and you two have become friendly and familiar. The other 5 people in the room do not know you, so be prepared to know who each person is, his or her background, and possibly his or her thoughts on your presentation topic.
No one likes a liar, not even the most talented ones. If you don’t know something, then admit it. I’m not saying to claim you are dumb or to claim a complete lack of knowledge. However, those around you will respect your honesty about limitations, and it may even help to build a new bridge. Just be thoughtful about how you admit to a lack of knowledge – offer what you do know first.
4. Share The Space
We learn best from others, so give other people the space to share as well. Rather than trying to always control the conversation, share your space on stage or on the conference call. You are likely to learn something new that can shape your perspective in a new way.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
By practice, I mean the important mixture of research and preparation. A great musician knows that performing is more than reading notes on a page and playing them at the correct tempo. Interpretation takes time. The musician will learn about the background of that piece of music, where the composer was in his or her life when it was written, and listen to recordings of it. We should treat our own communications in a similar way. If you are presenting recommendations to a real estate agent, then you should really understand who the client is, the industry as a whole, and client goals.
Communication is not about you or your opinions. It’s about sharing with others, understanding needs, and bringing a positive value to the world.