Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council
No matter what role, industry or career stage you're in, it's a safe bet that strong communication skills are a key requirement for your job. Being able to clearly state directions, information and messages in a way that others can understand and follow is critical to keeping a business and team running smoothly.
The very best communicators are able to adapt their presentation style according to the audience and the medium, whether they're speaking face-to-face or sending an email. We asked members of Forbes CoachesCouncil about the qualities and behaviors that make someone a superb communicator. Their best answers are below.
1. Never Bury The Lead
It is human nature to couch the "ask," or primary purpose of the communication, with language that introduces the purpose of your outreach. Strong communicators succeed in leading off with the purpose of the communication – using language that is compelling and persuasive. They avoid the tendency to beat around the bush. - Virginia Franco, Virginia Franco Resumes
2. Connect Emotionally
Great communicators ask good questions, relate to their audience as if they're speaking one-on-one, are driven by clarity, and exude genuine emotion and transparency. They never forget how people feel. A true emotional bond occurs when the speaker is actively present, open, honest and in the moment. It starts with likability, but is reinforced by a combination of delivery and impactful content. - Joanne Markow, GreenMason
3. Be Present And Clear
When speaking, don't focus on what you're going to say, judge what the other person said, or make assumptions about what they will say. Be present. In your writing, focus on the now by being clear about the "ask." Be clear on what you are asking, without all the stories or analysis. - Alan Trivedi, Trivedi Coaching & Consulting Group
4. Focus On Quality Over Quantity
People are bombarded daily with numerous emails and social media posts. Make your communication more effective by clearly stating your message and supporting points, and providing a direct call to action at the end of the email or conversation. Be brief when stating the problem and direct when offering a solution. - Ilean Harris, Ilean Harris
5. Use Your Audience's Communication Preferences
People have different communication styles. Some focus on ideas, others look for relationships; some like detail, others concentrate on the big picture. Deliver your message how the other person prefers to receive it. For strategic thinkers, give the gist; for idea people, new concepts; for those who focus on relationships, show the impact on people; and those who prefer detail, use bullet points. - Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC
6. Take Responsibility For Message Acceptance
Superb communicators are never just interested in delivering a message – they take responsibility for how they communicate. First, they make sure the message is relevant to those with whom they are communicating, and second, they ensure that the intended recipients actually understand the message. They never blame others for not understanding their message. - Donald Hatter, Donald Hatter Inc.
7. Provide Value To Your Audience
Great communicators provide value and benefit to their audience. Whatever topic they choose must give their readers/listeners something that's important to them – something that entices them or that they can relate to – and most often, there is an emotional connection. If a message has meaning or significance to an audience, personally or professionally, people pay attention. - Cha Tekeli, Chalamode, Inc.
8. Be A Good Story Teller
Whether you're presenting to a room full of people or pitching a new client, having a listener engaged is the crucial part of communicating. Why are so many great teachings told in parables? It's because as humans, we are wired to understand, connect and retain the information in stories much better than a list of facts and figures. Becoming a superb storyteller can make you a master communicator. - Rosalee Laws, The Rosalee Laws Company
9. Offer A Clear Message And Actionable Inspiration
In the Industrial Age, great communicators were often seen as the most charismatic. Now, thanks to digital delivery and remote work, charisma is often muted by the words chosen. To be a superb communicator in the Social Age, focus on clarity by establishing the who, what, when, where, why and how. Then deliver “actionable inspiration” – the simple act of inspiring your audience to take action. - Mark S. Babbitt, YouTern
10. Be Brief, Be Brilliant, Be Gone
A former mentor once told me his golden rule for communications: "Be brief, be brilliant, be gone." Given people's cognitive overload these days, being concise and thoughtful cannot be underestimated. Show that you have listened to the other person's needs – otherwise you are shooting in the dark. - Shoma Chatterjee, ghSMART
11. Follow The Three C's: Consistent, Clear, Courteous
Be consistent: If you want to be trusted and earn credibility, you have to be consistent in the messages you send. Be clear: Communication needs to be as“clean” as possible, not muddled by negative emotions and punitive verbal weapons. Be courteous: Courtesy conveys respect and respectful communication can be demonstrated by choosing words that are appropriate to the situation. - Maria Pastore, Maria Pastore Coaching
12. Listen With Empathy
Whether you are working with prospects, clients or the general public, the art of listening intently and with empathy can't be undersold. It is so important to remember that we are not organizations communicating with organizations – we are human beings communicating with other human beings. When we take the time to really relate to others, we are more likely to be heard. - Heather Pinay, Authentically: Business & Life Solutions
13. Remove Your Assumptions
Noise is anything that gets in the way of the message. And you, the sender, have yours! It happens right between thinking and sending. A lot of noise is assumptions about what the receiver already knows, thinks, feels, etc. Clear out your own assumptions and your message gets clearer. - Evan Weselake, GetPureFocus
14. Repeat The Person's Name
A powerful way to communicate with others is to repeat their name often during the conversation. It helps you to focus directly on them, the specific communication, and how that communication affects them. When writing an email, use their name in your correspondence, not solely in the salutation. It draws them into the dialog and gives them the sense that you value what they have to say. - Elva Bankins Baxter, Bankins Consulting, Inc.
15. Build A Connection Based On Trust
Today, communication is not about being great with words or using perfect grammar. It's about being able to connect with another human being in a way that matters to both of you. And the only magic wand for this is to build and maintain trust. Focus first on being worth someone else's trust, and generously offer your trust to others. Only then will your communication soar. - Darcy Eikenberg, Red Cape Revolution
©2019 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.