By Carolyn Crawford
The first problem when considering improving your communication skills is simply with the word ‘communication’ itself, given that it covers so many different scenarios. When you’re selling, you’re communicating. When you’re negotiating, presenting, facilitating a meeting, managing a staff member, asking for senior management sign-off, influencing peers, writing a report, emailing a client or texting a colleague, you’re always communicating. Frankly even if you’re just sitting in a meeting and listening to proceedings, you’re still communicating because your body language and facial expressions are telling those around you something about your level of engagement and interest.
The next problem is that there are so many books and courses available on the market to skill you up in each of these disciplines individually, from Sales Training to Influencing Skills and Business Writing Skills, how can you possibly differentiate between them and ultimately choose.
Well, that requires a Decision Making Process, for which of course you can do a course! I’m not going to attempt in this blog to help you with that decision. What I want to offer is a way of considering communications across the board that will help to improve your communication before you even attend a course, and that will also help you assess the workshops you’re considering attending.
Ultimately there are three key stages to ANY communication that any book or course could and should address. They are:
- Your Mental Preparation
- Your Physical Preparation
- The Delivery & Interaction Live On The Day
That’s it! Three steps to brilliant communication – any communication.
Let’s take a few examples. A sales skills workshop will assist you with the processes of:
- taking the mental approach of a ‘consultant’ or ‘counsellor’;
- planning the questions you want to ask and how to open the meeting to ensure credibility and rapport;
- and delivery skills to advocate to your client’s needs and overcome objections.
A presentation skills workshop will assist you in:
- understanding audience’s perspective and needs;
- crafting a tailored message and a persuasive argument that is relevant and engaging for them;
- delivering naturally, confidently and convincingly, in order to increase the likelihood of buy-in.
Even a module dedicated to listening skills will explore:
- the ‘intention’ to listen – to be fully present and genuinely interested;
- the planned as well as spontaneous questions you’ll ask to dig deeper;
- and the body language required to engage and encourage the speaker.
So are there some general themes that can be adopted across the board to help you be more effective in your preparation for, and delivery of, all your day-to-day interactions?
In short, the answer is yes. In-depth the answer could take a book. The following three blogs, tackling each of the steps in turn, capture some key take-outs to help focus your thinking.