Learning to be an effective communicator is essential to success as an entrepreneur and leader. Here … [+]
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Becoming a successful entrepreneur naturally requires great ideas and a compelling value proposition that gets customers excited about your product or service. But that isn’t enough on its own. To really solidify your future in business, you must also become a savvy communicator that can lead and positively influence others.
Whether you need to pitch your big idea to a potential investor or want to make a good impression with your new hires, improving your communication skills will always be a smart investment that helps you to achieve better outcomes with your company.
This reality became abundantly clear during a recent interview I had with James Bell, a lawyer, real estate investor and above all else, negotiation expert. During our conversation, Bell shared a few key insights into some of the tactics and skills that strong communicators use to better engage and influence those they’re speaking with.
1. Learn To Interpret Non-Verbal Cues
While the assertion that 55% of communication is derived from a combination of facial expressions and body language has come under increased criticism in recent years, there is no denying that non-verbal elements play an important role in all communication between people.
However, as Bell was quick to note, expert communicators aren’t just mindful of their own posture and facial expressions—they’re also able to adeptly interpret the cues given by others.
“An individual’s posture, gestures or facial expressions offer a major hint as to what they’re actually thinking and feeling,” he explains. “For example, mirroring another person’s body language and gestures is often done when trying to establish rapport with someone. Correctly interpreting and responding to another’s body language will help you guide the conversation.”
2. Become An Active Listener
Listening is such a commonly-repeated tip that it’s almost become cliché. However, that’s because it’s such an important element of becoming a successful communicator. Giving your full, undivided attention when another is speaking can have dramatic outcomes—and it’s such a surprisingly rare trait that people take notice.
As just one example, writer Lisa Mooney notes in a recent article about workplace communication, that actively listening to employees helps improve productivity, job satisfaction and relationships in the workplace. Better listening from leadership and co-workers alike translates into to better comprehension, which reduces miscommunication and enhances focus.
Active listening allows you to pick up on smaller cues—including discerning what’s not being said in a conversation—to help you better understand those you’re communicating with, so you can better meet their needs during a conversation.
3. Be Transparent About Your Feelings
Authenticity is a popular buzzword we often hear in association with social media influencers or major marketing campaigns. But it also plays an essential role as you strive to become a more savvy communicator.
“The most effective communicators are willing to make an emotional connection with their audience,” Bell says. “In other words, they’re willing to be transparent about what they care about and what drives them. They don’t try to create a fake persona to come across as being more confident or strong. They share their passions in their own unique style so that others can catch the vision.”
These core values shouldn’t just influence your communication style—they can also help you better define your entire company’s vision and mission. Opening yourself up for this type of emotional vulnerability will help you better connect with like-minded individuals.
4. Be Concise
The phrase “short and sweet” should have a direct application to the way you communicate with others. While it can be tempting to offer lengthy, in-depth explanations during face-to-face meetings, on emails or over the phone, keep in mind that the average human attention span is allegedly a mere eight seconds. This makes it clear that you need to develop the ability to get your point across as quickly and concisely as possible.
Author and marketing executive Joseph McCormack notes that many entrepreneurs end up speaking too much because of tendencies to over-explain, under-prepare or continue to try driving home a message long after they’ve made their point.
To solve this problem, consider taking just a couple of minutes to outline your main talking points before your next meeting or phone call. Think about ways you can turn your presentation into a conversation—or use visuals to reduce how much you need to say. Continually looking for ways to trim out non-essential components of a presentation will make it easier for others to stay focused on your core message.
5. Have A Call To Action
Calls to action are an essential aspect of any marketing activity, ranging from writing a blog post that’s designed to convert readers into qualified leads, to crafting a well-designed advertising campaign. However, calls to action are also used to great effect in everyday communication by savvy entrepreneurs.
“All communications should have a why behind them,” Bell says. “Why are you scheduling this meeting or sending this email? It could be something as simple as creating a positive perception of your brand, or ensuring that a project is completed on time. Use your why and your knowledge of your audience to adapt your communications accordingly, so you can create a strong call to action.”
By focusing on the why behind your conversation, you can dramatically increase the likelihood that others will walk away with the intended takeaway—and be more likely to follow through on the action you desire. Having a meaningful goal or call to action for each meeting, email and phone call will enable you not only achieve greater results, but also decide if a particular meeting is worth scheduling in the first place.
Becoming A Master Communicator
Whether you’re speaking with investors, customers or employees, how you communicate matters. Improving your communication skills may take some time, but it’s an investment that’s well worth the effort.
As you develop and practice these techniques on a daily basis, you’ll be better equipped to build stronger relationships, achieve greater results and win more influence in your business.