Leaders today face many challenges when it comes to effective communication skills. People are increasingly inundated with constant incoming messages. People are internally processing data from television, radio, internet, emails, text messages, group chats, phone calls, and more. How can you communicate with impact to ensure their messages are reaching their intended audience in a meaningful way?
Whether it is a presentation to the Board of Directors, winning a new client, or leading a routine staff meeting, here are some easy ways you can improve your leadership communication skills now:
- Be Present. Whether you are communicating in-person or virtually, people can tell if you are distracted. Remove possible distractions during meetings and stay engaged when others are speaking. People notice when you are checking your phone or other devices while others are talking, and it makes it less likely they will give you their full attention when it’s your turn.
- Know your audience. Craft your messages for the intended audience. Are they experts in the topic, or novices? Are you collaborating with your team, or trying to persuade a customer? Consider their preferred communication method. Some people prefer to receive emails that they can read at their convenience; others prefer a quick phone call.
- Focus on the purpose of your communication. Know what you want to achieve with each interaction. Keep your messages focused on this one purpose, and resist letting conversations stray away from that primary subject. Make the most out of every minute you have, and don’t take other’s time for granted.
- Practice active listening. Communication is a two-way street. Great leaders know they can build trust and establish rapport by being an active listener. Use non-verbal affirmations to show the other person you are listening to them, such as nodding your head to show understanding. Don’t interrupt, and when they finish speaking, paraphrase what you heard back to that person to make sure you have understood. If appropriate, ask specific questions to make sure you are both on the same page.
- Always keep learning. Effective leaders embrace lifelong learning and self-improvement. Professional development in essential areas like effective communication can give you and your team the competitive edge they need to succeed.