Clear and effective communication underpins the running of any successful organization.
If you’re in an executive role, communication takes on many forms. Mastering the art will give you a precious edge in performance so don’t be afraid to engage a coach to bring out the best in you.
With research showing that either written or verbal communication is involved in fully 90% of business transactions, neglecting the art of communication is ill-advised.
Whether you’re communicating internally or with your client base, whether you’re interviewing or trying to get departments to work collaboratively on a project, getting your message across is only half the battle. You need to make sure that message is understood.
10 Ways a Coach Can Help You To Communicate More Effectively
As with any skill, the best executive coach can help you hone your ability to communicate.
We’ll outline 10 key areas where a solid executive coach can work with the skills you already have in place and help you to communicate with devastating effect, an effect that can dramatically impact the bottom line of your organization.
1) Accept Full Responsibility for Breakdown in Communication
Communication is not communication unless the transmission is fully understood.
In your leadership role, you’re invariably the primary communicator. You’re not only responsible for sharing a message, but also making sure that message hits home.
Beyond this, communicating is about more than simply imparting information. You can better understand the people you work with through effective communication. You can also improve your relationships both within the organization and with clients.
With this in mind, if your message has not been adequately understood, communication has been incomplete. You have failed in your job.
If this happens, don’t pass the buck. The easiest thing is to blame someone else. The much tougher but far more effective approach is to ask yourself what you did wrong, and to bear full responsibility for this breakdown in communication.
In terms of remedying the issue, take a leaf from Michael Jordan’s book. He assiduously reviewed all his past games to identify and work on mistakes. You don’t need to go to the lengths of recording your conversations, but take any failures in communication to your coach and he’ll help you work through the problem, help you to achieve a better outcome next time around.
2) Are You Really Listening or Just Waiting for an Opportunity to Speak?
This is an area where an executive coach can really drill you.
Have you heard the expression, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason”?
I’m saying this not to be rude but it’s a truism well worth bearing in mind when you’re communicating in the workplace.
Ask yourself if you’re genuinely listening to the other party or simply waiting to slip your next point in. Without listening attentively, you’re unlikely to get the optimum outcome for both parties from any interchange.
Your coach can help you here by making sure you feed back what you’re hearing. Not only does this crystallize and clarify things in your mind, it makes the other party feel like you’re really listening to them.
3) Ask Yourself What’s In It For Your Audience
It goes unsaid you need to think about your own needs when you’re communicating. You shouldn’t neglect what you want from any given exchange, but neither should you overlook what’s equally important…
What’s in it for your audience?
Whether you’re talking one-on-one or presenting to a large group, you should always keep the needs and different perspectives of your audience uppermost in mind.
I mention perspectives because these differ according to someone’s position in an organization, their motivations and their various needs. A one-size-fits-all solution rarely works.
By remaining fluid and ready to switch up your style when required, you’ll be better placed to cater to everyone’s needs without compromising your own.
4) Keep Conversation a Two-Way Street
This might seem like a statement of the obvious but it bears keeping firmly in mind.
When you’re communicating, you should pay close attention not only to the words you hear, but you should also drill down on whether or not you fully understand what the other person means.
Equally as important as what someone says is what they don’t say. Reading between the lines is a crucial skill your coach can help you develop and sharpen. You don’t need to be a mind reader but your coach can make sure you don’t miss out on subtle pointers where someone might be implying something by omission.
Delivering a monologue is a surefire way to bore your listener and put them off interacting fully. Your coach will make absolutely certain your listening skills are equally polished as your spoken delivery.
5) Never Be Afraid of Repetition: I Repeat, Never Be Afraid of Repetition
This might seem like the antithesis of clear and effective communication, but I’m talking about a very specific type of repetition here…
By repeating the way in which someone has interpreted what you’ve said back to them, you can ensure that they really have understood what’s been asked of them.
You can also flip this neatly on its head by asking your audience to paraphrase what you’ve said to them. This will make it clear whether or not you’re on the same page. You can then plug any gap in comprehension by drilling down with more precision.
6) Non-Verbal Communication Counts
Non-verbal communication, according to this study, accounts for more than half of an audience’s perception of the presenter. This holds true whether you’re communicating to a group or an individual. It also works in both directions.
You should never underestimate the value of learning the basics of body language. Proper posture, eye contact and movement can seriously enhance the impact of your words. This is another area where your coach can give you a helping hand.
7) Over-Communicate When Sharing New Ideas
It’s commonplace to overestimate just how much a listener understands, doubly so if you’re talking about a complex or unfamiliar topic.
Just because you see a nodding head or hear a “Sure”, that doesn’t always equate to your message hitting home in full.
While you should communicate clearly and concisely, don’t confuse this with needing to gloss over important details too quickly. Over-communicating an idea followed up with summarizing that idea is a solid strategy to guarantee your audience absorbs the full weight of what you’re saying.
An executive coach can work through a number of exercises to check you get this skill on lock.
8) Remain on Point At All Times
While I’ve talked about repetition used strategically and also about over-communication, keep in mind that you should also stay on message at all times. Avoid verbiage. Resist the temptation to add anything extraneous to the conversation.
Your coach can assist you here by keeping you fully focused on the goal or goals of your communication.
9) Skip The Visual Aids Where Possible
Steve Jobs famously banned all PowerPoint presentations at Apple.
Facebook also instituted a similar veto on visual aids.
Needless to say, both of these global giants communicate brilliantly at the very highest level.
When you sidestep relying too much on props, you’ll be forced to draw your audience in with words alone. Combining the art of storytelling with non-verbal cues can be far more impactful than rolling out a few tired old slides.
10) Think About Whether What You’re Saying Really Makes Sense
Feedback is pivotal when you’re trying to ascertain whether your message is really punching home.
The listening skills you’ve polished with your coach will come fully to the fore here, along with your ability to take on board what your listener is feeding back to you verbally, non-verbally, and with what they are not saying. Put all these elements together and you can determine how much your message is sinking in.
You can say that communication has been truly effective when all parties can agree that “It makes sense.”
What To Do Next
If you’re looking to enhance your communication skills through the power of coaching, put it into practice right now.
Get in touch and schedule an appointment. I’ll help you to help yourself and, in turn, your audience and your organization.