I have been asked to share with a group of young people, future leaders, a few tricks and tips for what I think of as ‘effective professional communication’.
Nine Top Tips for Communicating Strategically
I think the following rules cover anything from job interviews to fundraising pitches, conversations with teachers or negotiations for an internship. Pulling it all together has made me think – I wish someone had told me this stuff 30 years ago!
Let me know if you think I have missed anything.
Before you Start
- There are no rules and there is no perfect. It’s about being the best version of you; or as the Berocca copywriters put it, ‘you, but on a really good day’. (I have to thank my fellow trainer Eric Dixon for this little nugget.)
- Have a plan. Know what you want to achieve. 5 minutes thinking about what would be a great outcome from any conversation, what would be a good outcome and what would be a bad outcome, will help you focus. Trust yourself on this. Anything you think is fine.
- Also, ask yourself what you know about the other person or the audience. What matters to them? What are their priorities? Do they have problems you can solve or priorities you share? A back of envelope audit about your target can shape your messaging. It can also help with rapport (see point 9)
- Having worked out your goal, think about how you want the other side – be it one person or many – to feel, to think and what you want them to do, as a result of the conversation or presentation. Again clarity of thought here will serve you well.
Plan the words – or some of them
- Having worked through points one to four above, you can work out what you want to say and how best to say it. There are no rules, but clearly articulated ideas will help everyone. For example, if fundraising: ‘we know how to help, we just need the funds’ or if in a job interview: ‘if you gave me this job, I could transform your social media’.
- Having identified a few key assertions or toplines – find ways to ‘prove it’. In the example above you are looking for either facts, numbers or anecdotes that will ‘prove’ you can transform your potential employers social media. A fact might be: correct use of tags on Twitter typically increases ‘shares’ by 30%. An anecdote might be ‘I helped a shoe shop in my high street double the number of customers simply by using social media to talk about footwear trends in Gosport.’
- And that brings us to stories. Tell more stories. Learn to tell stories. Try them out on friends and family. Stories, anecdotes and examples will influence people much more than real hard evidence. They will also make you a better leader, help you sound more authentic and above all make you more memorable.
And then …
- Once you have considered the substance of any message, rehearse it aloud. This may make you feel silly, but it will really help.
- Finally; study rapport*. Learn ways to make a connection with people you don’t already know. Rapport is key to so many conversations and while it is no silver bullet, building rapport will never be a bad thing.
The Media Coach provides bespoke training in Effective Communication in many different ways. Media Training, Presentation Training, Personal Effectiveness Training and Video Skills for Business. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us +44 (0)20 7099 2212 if you want to discuss your needs.
*As I have said before, if you don’t know what is meant by rapport (and can cope with more than an hour of full-on Tony Robbins) this OTT video will give you more than you ever need to know.