Below are some valuable tips to improve your business and interpersonal communication:
Be clear about what you need from others.
Be clear in your communication with colleagues and teammates so that there is no confusion. In a working environment, this clarity of communication includes role definition and project timelines—lack of clarity results in confusion, tension, and undelivered tasks.
Follow up verbal communication with written communication!
There is nothing wrong with verbal communication. However, following up verbal communication with written communication is advisable in a work environment to avoid misunderstanding or misinterpretation of instructions. Written communication can be via email or mobile communication.
Be clear about your time frames.
Because it is natural for teams in businesses to work on multiple projects and tasks simultaneously, project leaders need to communicate project timelines. Failure to do so may result in conflict, missed deadlines, and unmet expectations.
Adapt your communication to different circumstances
You need to be able to adapt your communication to different circumstances. For instance, you may have prepared a message for an occasion. But when you arrive, you realise that the audience or the mood necessitates a different message. You need the communication skills to adapt, think on your feet and adjust your message accordingly depending on the circumstances.
Understand your audience
Understanding your audience is key to staying relevant when communicating. You should know their demographics, age, culture, and issues that concern them. Taking time beforehand to understand pertinent issues that matter to your audience is essential to ensure they stay engaged and listen to what you have to say. Understanding the audience means communicating in simple spoken language if you are addressing ordinary folk and elevating your language or adding industry jargon if addressing a business audience.
Understanding your audience and speaking to their issues and language will help you turn around sometimes volatile and even hostile audiences.
Being a good listener
One critical communication skill is listening to others and understanding where they come from—not second-guessing them, finishing sentences for them, or anticipating what they say. Good listeners can communicate effectively and respond comprehensively in a measured manner. They have listened and are aware of all the issues. Good listeners are also able to manage difficult situations. Not being a listener leads to missing some of the problems or issues being said as your mind is already formulating responses even before the person finishes what they want to say.
Create platforms for sharing information and feedback
Create platforms for sharing information and providing feedback. Information-sharing and feedback platforms include face-to-face meetings, town hall meetings, newsletters, social media, websites, intranets, and networking platforms.
Have a key message
Consider a few messages and avoid trying to relay too many messages simultaneously. This will ensure that recipients of the communication remember your message. Having too many messages leaves people confused and unable to process all of them. It dilutes your communication efforts.
Learning communication skills
Good communication skills do not just happen. You must assess your weaknesses or shortcomings and undergo communication skills training to improve yourself. Various courses are available in the market to enhance one's communication skills. They include voice training, presentation, written communication, report writing, copywriting, and many others.
You must have and exude confidence when communicating, as this will make you believable and respected. Confidence comes with knowing your subject matter and being able to respond to questions when asked. It also comes with adequate research, anticipating questions to be asked, and appropriate responses.
Invest time and energy in rehearsals and dry runs to ensure you deliver your message professionally. If you are presenting to audiences, rehearsing allows you to understand and familiarise yourself with the equipment you will use so that everything goes smoothly on the day.
Confidence comes with being appropriately dressed for the occasion. For instance, if a platform requires formal dress, a tie and jacket become appropriate. On the other hand, some circumstances require informal clothing such as a T-shirt and jeans.
Good presentation skills
Communicators require good presentation skills. These are acquired through experience, training and learning from others. They include posture, voice projection, articulation, and audience awareness. You must be aware of when your time is up when the audience is no longer engaged or is bored. Some of the best presentations are delivered quickly, allowing the audience to engage, interact and ask questions.
How to motivate a budget for a communications department
Communicators often struggle to secure the budgets they require to execute their plans compared to other departments. This is because they are perceived as spenders and not core to the business’s operations. They are seen as the “balloon people” and are often the first to be targeted when businesses are implementing budget cuts.
This may be because many communications departments do not place themselves at the centre of the business. They relegate themselves to the periphery, doing events and putting up “balloons”.
To successfully motivate and maintain the budget, communication departments must have relevant business communication strategies that support the entire business and its goals. If the business goals include growth and retention of customers and awareness, these goals must be reflected in the communications strategy.
The strategy must be measurable and be accompanied by clear action plans. Everything must be linked back to a specific business objective.
The department must also provide feedback on progress throughout the year to the entire business so that all internal stakeholders understand the impact and benefit derived from the department.
By doing this, the communication department is placing itself in the centre of the business, ensuring its relevance and, therefore, its right to be allocated a deserving budget.
HOW TO DEVELOP THE PERFECT COMMUNICATION STRATEGY
Developing a perfect communication strategy requires preparation and specific critical inputs to ensure it is perfect. The essential inputs are the following:
You need the background information of the business or project for which you are developing the communication strategy. This assists with ensuring that the plan is relevant. It would be best if you had to understand the business operations, where they are going, their short- and long-term goals, their operating environment, challenges, competitors, and other factors.
The communication strategy must have objectives. These serve as a guide to what you hope to achieve through the plan. The goals must be measurable and realistic. Setting unrealistic goals is going to set you up for failure. Examples of goals include:
To improve brand awareness
To improve sales
To change stakeholder perceptions
To influence behaviour, etc.
Strategy outcomes relate to what you wish to achieve after implementing the communication strategy. Examples of the outcomes can be:
Support for an organisation
Improved brand awareness
This involves understanding the environment in which the business operates, including socio-economic factors, laws, regulatory authorities, and competitors, and how all these facts impact the business.
Communication involves spending money. Identifying stakeholders in the communication strategy will ensure the funds are not wasted on the wrong people. It is best also to understand where the target audience is located, their preferred communication channels, their language preference, etc.
The story to be told
Define the story that will be told through the communication strategy and confirm it with the business. This is important in ensuring that funds and effort are not wasted on the wrong message.
All disciplines require procedures and guidelines to be performed correctly. Communication protocols are rules that govern communication within businesses. For instance, they relate to issues such as how communication is done, who communicates what, and when it is done.
Communication protocols are necessary within organisations to avoid confusion, mixed messages, and loss of reputation. Typically, communication protocols are useful in the following scenarios:
Within organisations, communication protocols dictate that the human resources department communicates work condition-related information to employees. This includes contract, pay, leave and all other similar information. Receiving this information from one department is meant to regulate the correct flow of information and protect the company’s reputation.
Communication protocols dictate that media-related information, including media statements and enquiries, be handled by the media department or a person assigned to handle media. Organisations often assign a single person as a spokesperson.
Again, this is done to avoid conflicting messages and information, which may damage the organisation’s reputation.
Communication protocols also dictate or guide how a company communicates in times of crisis. There would be individuals selected beforehand and known to the organisation who step in during times of crisis. They are trained on how to communicate. What to say and what not to say.
Again, this is meant to protect the company’s reputation, as failure will cost its reputation and customers.