From presidents to every officer, both public or private, in any country, leaders who know how to communicate hold the power. Their ideas are heard, followed and executed by other people. People love to work with them which enables them to do what they set out to do. They know how to listen and adapt their message to their intended audience. They plan what they say and deliver them as concisely as possible so as not to waste time. The best leaders practice effective communication every day until it becomes second nature to them. If you want to be this kind of leader, here are some tips to boost your communication skills:
Understand the Communication Process
The communication process is both subtle and complex. The ultimate purpose is always to prevent miscommunication. To do this, you need to understand the process, which can be broken down into several steps. First, you have a message you want to share with someone else. Next, you choose how to convey that message. Is it by words, actions or images? Then, you send the message using different mediums of communication. The recipient then receives the message you sent. This is when you lose control over it and shifts to the recipients. The next step is for the recipient to interpret the message. He will then act on the message. At this point, you can only hope that your initial choices were correct and that the receivers will act accordingly. Finally, you receive a feedback. Once you understand each of these seven steps, you will be well on your way to becoming an effective communicator.
Reflect on the Hindrances of Effective Communication
To paraphrase a popular saying, you need to know that there is a problem first, before you can act on it. Horrible leaders will just yell at their subordinates when a problem happens. But the usual cause of problems is a breakdown in communication. If you want people to understand you, you need to know how the breakdown happened. Was your message unclear or confusing? Was your choice of words, action or images inappropriate? Did the transmission fail? Did the receiver understand the message? These problems or issues are the hindrances to effective communication.
Once you understand what the hindrances are, your next step should be to plan ahead. This is not to say that you can plan for everything. Every now and then there are spontaneous meetings, casual chats or impromptu talks. But more often than not, its possible to plan ahead situations where you need to communicate effectively. Set aside time to do this the way you make appointments in your diary. Analyze situations where communications will occur and determine the message that you want to send. Draft your ideas and then practice your oral communication. Finally, edit what you have written and check your visuals.
Know Your Message and Your Purpose
Although it sounds simple enough, determining the message and its purpose is the most difficult aspect of communication. Most of the time, this is because of failure to do the tip above. Remember this, just because you know how to talk, it does not mean that you can be understood by other people. To ensure that you messages are precise and accurately targeted, ask questions. If you don’t, you run the risk of either saying too little or too much. The most important question to ask is why what you are communicating is essential for the audience. Refine your message to your targeted audience.
Analyze your Audience
Having information about your audience will help you tailor your message so that it is received as accurately as possible. Knowing them increases the odds of your message being received as you intend it to be. If you are going to a board meeting, for example, you know that you have to be concise so as not to waste their time. However, if you will deliver a talk to first graders, you might want to expand a little more on the subject to make sure that they understand your message. While its not important to know each and every one of them, it would be helpful to understand their demographics.
There are many to hone your communication skills. The tips above are just some of the more important ones to get you started on your road to becoming an effective communication, and someday, a great leader.