Every leader is a communicator.
Now, you may lead but not with a microphone, but all leaders communicate on a regular basis in different ways. In fact, sometimes the least important way that we communicate is with a microphone.
Leaders communicate through meetings every day.
Leaders communicate with social media every day.
Leaders communicate through emails every day.
Leaders communicate through texts and phone calls every day.
When you think of being a communicator, it is natural to immediately begin thinking of a main stage communicating opportunity. I get it, and I naturally do the same, but when I think of being an effective communicator, it goes way deeper than just the times you have a microphone.
In order to be an effective communicator, I think every time you communicate, you need to answer these three questions:
1. What do I want the audience to know?
If it is an email, what do I want the reader to know? If it is a social media post, what do I want my followers to know?
The point is that every time that you communicate, you need to know what you want the audience to know.
When the information is unclear to the communicator, the information will be unclear to the audience.
No communicator wants to leave the audience confused or bored. If you do, I highly recommend that you stop being a leader and find a new profession.
I would think of this as “the one thing.” What is the “one thing” that I want my readers/audience to know about what I am communicating? When you know what that one simple thing is, communicate it!
Too often, we try and communicate a thousand things in an email, and then our readers hear nothing. It is much easier for a reader to remember one thing rather than encouraging them to read many things.
So, always find that ONE THING and then just talk about it.
2. What do I want my audience to do with this information?
Great speeches inspire people to action. Well, that can be true of an email, social media post, or a meeting. If we want our team to leave the meeting and do something, we must enter the meeting answering this question, “What is the one thing that I am asking my audience to do?”
I have two kids, and when I leave them a list of ten things to do, they struggle to get them done, but when I give them one task at a time, they seem to be more productive.
Team members are the same way. Ask them to do one main thing and I bet you that your team becomes more productive.
The problem is that most team members leave meetings feeling like this:
- “What was the point of that meeting?”
- “What are the expectations of me?”
- “Who is owning what we just talked about?”
- “I have no idea what he was trying to say in that meeting?”
When you communicate, you have to be clear what you want the readers to do with what you are communicating.
I truly believe that understanding this question will instantly make you a better communicator. The problem is that too many leaders lead meetings/talks/social media posts/or write emails because they are supposed to write them, but they have no idea what they are asking the audience to do.
3. Can my communication be understood clearly?
This is where the proofreading comes into play.
This is where practicing your talk in front of someone else comes into play.
This is where feedback before it is sent comes into play so you can craft something that can easily be understood.
Clear communication takes much more time but you will have much better results.
So take the extra time and communicate clearly.
Be creative. Be compelling. Be transparent. Be passionate. Be brief (no one complains about short emails, but I have gotten my share of complaints about lengthy emails).
You answer these questions, and you are on your way to becoming an effective communicator.