Leaders must communicate and communicate well because the main way they can cast their vision, problem solve, and teach the people they lead is through communication.
Over the past four years, I have given over 100 talks a year. Most of these have been as part of my job at the United Way of Stanislaus County where I talk about our work and ask people to pledge money to support us. Some might argue that a request for donations talk is the most difficult to give, thus meaning I have had to become very skilled and tactful in my communication.
Based on my experience and study of communication I have developed 8 tips for communicating better:
- Always Know Your Topic: The only way to add value to your audience and to share something relevant with them is first to know your topic. Thoroughly knowing your topic is what gives you the confidence to deliver your talk well and deviate from your original plan if needed.
- Know and Research Your Audience: The best way to know what to talk about and how to convey your message is to know and research your audience. The internet will allow you to research almost anyone and anything in addition to making some phone calls to people who might know the audience whom you are going to speak to.
- Over Prepare and then Go with the Flow: This is one which is harder to do, but can be relevant once you feel comfortable with your talk. If you have prepared well by knowing your topic and audience then you can deviate from your outline if you have a new thought or story that might illustrate your main point when delivering a talk. If you have that new thought, go with it.
- Respect and Admire Your Audience: The audience you are going to speak to always knows if you respect and admire them. No one wants to listen to someone who secretly thinks poorly of them and whom looks down on them; thus you must cultivate respect and admiration for your audience because people will know if you do or don’t have respect and admiration of them.
- Make the Audience Feel Important: If you develop respect and admiration for your audience, you are automatically going to cause them to feel important. You can also make them feel important by simply affirming who they are and encouraging them. Everyone wants to be encouraged and affirmed for who they are.
- Make the Audience Laugh: People learn best when they are having fun. In order for your message to be remembered and applied, try to add a little humor into your talk to help the audience laugh and have fun.
- Be Yourself and Be Sincere: No one likes someone who is fake, especially the Millennial Generation and Generation Me. People want to see someone who is comfortable in her own skin and who is sincere.
- Close Strong: When you have followed the seven principles above, be sure to close strong in a succinct way. Memorize your conclusion so you can say it succinctly and say it with emphasis.
These eight tips have drastically helped to improve my communication over the years. In fact, I originally created this list in December of 2009. I’ve been using these tips for three years now and even though I don’t consider myself to be a “great” communicator, I think I am good and am working to improve.
Question: What tips do you have for communicating better?