Sometimes being business-savvy means being able to convince people that your business is worth taking part in. Convincing potential customers to give you a chance to excite them, persuading a contact to collaborate with you or become a partner – all of those instances require you to have effective communication skills.
Many business owners and entrepreneurs nowadays rely on written communication and social media channels to accomplish their goals. Having strong communication skills online is just as important as in person because the digital world is becoming more prominent for connecting, networking, and business transactions.
Here’s what you can do to improve your communication skills as well as your business:
Start and End with Key Points
Depending on the length of your talk or conversation, you might find it more or less challenging to hold the other person’s attention. If you have a lot to say, then proper organization of your speech is in order. Research has shown that we tend to remember the beginning and the end of a conversation or a speech most clearly. To make maximum use of this effect, make sure you always start your presentation with critical points and end it by reviewing them. It ties into the PIP approach (purpose, importance, preview) which is influenced by the same principles.
Keep the Essentials in Sight
The PIP approach, or “purpose, importance, preview” is an ideal way of starting any speech or a presentation. You can adjust it to your preferences, but make sure that the other person (or any other intended audience) is always aware of a couple of crucial things:
- what your purpose for this talk is,
- why the topic is important,
- how you’re going to discuss it.
For anyone to follow what you’re saying, they first need to be clear on what you’ll be talking about.
Humor is a good thing to incorporate into any conversation. However, there is a caveat: you should have confidence in your sense of humor, which comes from using it successfully in the past. As it is one of the most useful ways to connect with other humans, amusement should not be underestimated. It has its place even in a highly professional business setting, to make the topic more engaging. Make good use of it if you can, and start spicing up some conversations with some well-placed, funny jokes.
Engage the Audience
Whether you’re having a conversation with one or a few people or speaking in front of an audience, it’s essential to keep people engaged. Everyone knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a dull speaker’s attempts to deliver their point. Remember back to some professor who kept droning on about a subject that his students were not particularly invested in. The fault is not in the topic itself, but in the way it’s being presented.
A good communicator can make even the most boring subject extremely interesting. One of the key requirements for that is to engage the audience. Ask questions, share a relatable story, give them a moment to react to it. You’ll quickly see the results as people will grow more interested in what you have to say as soon as you give them a chance to express how they feel about it.
Know Who You’re Talking To
The key to successful communication is knowing who you’re talking to. Before any meaningful interaction, make sure to research either the overall profile of the target audience or the specific person that you’re going to focus your efforts on. Learn their pain points, their fears, and their hopes.
That way you can communicate with them with conviction and clarity, and they’ll feel like you understand them. It is the essential thing that you’ll be building your business with — understanding what others need and giving it to them.
Listen Well and Adapt to Feedback
Sometimes you’ll be in a situation where your original plan isn’t working. You’ll encounter a person who’s a tough nut to crack, someone who isn’t reacting to you the way you anticipated they would. That’s the time to adjust your approach according to the new information that you’ve just gathered.
Learning to listen and adapt to feedback might be the most challenging skill to master, but you will need it at times. It often involves having to change your approach or even improvise to achieve what you had set out to do.
Eliminate Nervous Gestures
If an inexperienced speaker is nervous, the first sign of that will be their gestures. In building up familiarity with speaking, you need to practice it regularly. Only that will help you eliminate both the nervous gestures and the anxiety of speaking.
The first time you start to practice, film it. Looking at the footage will help you catch all of the nervous gestures you’re making. It might also highlight other areas you can improve in. Every subsequent time, observe yourself in the mirror while you speak and attempt to train yourself not to use nervous gestures. This tip will help you immensely to gain the confidence to talk to others.
Keep the Rules of Online Communication in Mind
Online communication is quite different from talking to someone in person. There are a few things to keep in mind in any online messaging medium, whether that’s email or social media:
- keep your sentences and messages short — it shouldn’t take too long to read your message and absorb its meaning;
- adjust to the lack of real-time feedback — in most cases, you won’t be able to communicate through body language and facial expressions online, so you need to work harder at establishing the tone of the conversation;
- don’t neglect formatting — if you want the recipient of the message to read it in its entirety as opposed to just skimming it, make sure your formatting is easy on the eyes by avoiding walls of text.
Your communication skills might be the difference between success and failure, whether you use them in person or online. No matter what you do, you’ll benefit from being able to make your point convincingly and sway people to your side.