Posted: Wed 19th Sep 2012
Good communication is at the heart of good business. Whether you're negotiating with suppliers or selling to customers, using communications technology or speaking face to face, it's important to get your message across as effectively as possible.
Are there any rules you can follow? Yes, says business coach and writer Lola Bailey, whose '5Cs of communication' will help ensure you're always clear, credible, concise, creative and considerate.
1. Be clear
What are you trying to achieve through your communication? If you don't know, your audience won't know either. Be explicit. How will you know you have reached your goal? Ensure your audience will not have to make any assumptions to work out what you are asking of them. Other steps you can make to increase the clarity of your writing include the following:
Avoid jargon. Don't assume knowledge.
Keep paragraphs and sentences short.
Limit your sentences and paragraphs to one idea per sentence or paragraph.
2. Be credible
Without credibility your reader or listener will not commit their time or resources to your ideas and suggestions. Think of credibility as being a combination of trust and expertise. Tips to help you build trust:
Be sincere. Demonstrate your conviction that what you have to say is worth their time and attention.
Encourage dialogue. Listen to others' concerns and demonstrate your openness to others' perspectives.
Be candid.Â An honest acknowledgment of any weaknesses in your proposal can help build trust with your audience. Naturally the strengths should far outweigh any weaknesses!
Tips to build your expertise:
Research your ideas. Talk to knowledgeable individuals, read relevant sources; collect data and information to support and challenge what you want to say. You need to be well versed on the strengths and weaknesses of your ideas.
Gather endorsements. Publicise any awards or accolades you have won for your work. Be diplomatic though - you don't want to appear boastful, which would undermine any support you could get!
3. Be concise
Stick to the point; be succinct. Avoid the following and your communication will be more concise:
Saying things that don't add to your Â message
Unnecessary words and phrases such as "I think" (you need to be confident!) .
4. Be creative
The most logical argument won't persuade people unless you've also connected with them on an emotional level. Gripping stories and interesting anecdotes that illustrate your point are more memorable than facts and data. Use the following tools to help you:
5. Â Be considerate
Write and speak with consideration for your reader or listener. To do this, you will need a good understanding of who they are and what they need that you can provide. People generally want to hear about the benefits to them or the solutions you can provide to a problem they may have - rather than long-winded explanations of how things work, for example. Here are some pointers to help you communicate with consideration. Ask yourself:
Who is my audience?
What do they care about?
What words and phrases will engage them?
Does my core message convey a real benefit to them?
Lola Bailey has more than 20 years' experience in coaching, sales and market development and writing for business. An enthusiastic champion of start-ups, she also runs ihubbusiness, an online business hub offering internet marketing advice to start-ups and small enterprises.
Be seen and heard - communication skills supported by Brother
Be seen and heard is supported by Brother, the technology company for small and medium-sized businesses. Brother can help businesses of all sizes communicate like big enterprises with OmniJoin, the new high-end webconferencing software at a small business price. Free trials are available here.
Photo credit: Jason Tester