By: Erica Woods | Last Updated: 2016-10-10 | Comments | Professional Development Interviewing
We continue to see an increase in requests for quality communication in candidates, even with highly technical roles. Technical candidates need to have both a strong technical acumen and strong communication/soft skills in order to gain an edge in the job market. Further, poor to mediocre communication is a common reason qualified technical candidates are ruled out after an interview.
Here are 10 key “Cs” we recommend you evaluate and enhance to take your communication skills to the next level!
It all starts with your specific “target message!” What specifically are you trying to say and how are you framing it? Are you using the best verbiage/word choices? Are you including examples and/or accompanying resources? With important pieces of communication, such as a client presentation, email status update, etc., think through the content and the best way to word, structure and deliver that content.
Another C we could add to the list, but we’ll just throw under the Content section, is Current. Don’t lose people during your communication delivery because you’re using outdated statistics, themes, stories, case studies, etc. Do your best to have current content to increase credibility!
A constant struggle with communication is ensuring the right people are involved in the process and/or delivery, approve the communication, are receiving your message, etc. It’s helpful to ask yourself “who else does this impact?” And/or “who else would benefit from, or be interested in, knowing this?” when delivering your message. You don’t want to run the risk of upsetting someone by not including them in the process when they should have been, or make them feel less important.
Different messages need to be communicated via different channels and methods. For example, if any part of your message could be upsetting to someone or a group of people, email is not the right channel for the notification, although it could be used to deliver a follow up after the verbal announcement is made. When you need to deliver constructive feedback to a team member, that’s better accomplished in person in a quiet space with no one else around. Also, the motto of “praise in public, criticize in private” comes into play here.
Is your message delivered in a way so it immediately engages your audience? With the decline in attention span and overall engagement, capturing attention right out of the gates is instrumental to engaging your audience. This is why story telling is becoming more and more popular, as well as sharing successful case studies. Strategize how you’ll “capture” and engage your readers or listeners within the first 8-10 seconds of your presentation, call, email, post, etc.
A goal in communication is to minimize any potential confusion. Take a step back and audit your communication to ensure everything is as clear as possible. Is there anything that could be interpreted differently? Could anything be misconstrued in a negative manner? Is there anything that a non-technical member of the audience might not understand? Having a second set of eyes review any important communication materials can be helpful here, especially someone who doesn’t have a strong understanding of the subject. Remember, you might be the SME of the content you’re communicating, but those on the receiving end of your message might not be, so frame and adjust your communication with them in mind.
Strong communicators deliver their message in a dynamic and memorable manner! There are different ways to deliver your communication charismatically. Some strong presenters have exercises or habits they do routinely before they deliver a presentation. Before I deliver a presentation, I always drink a cup of water and do push-ups to calm my nerves and give myself an energy boost.
7. Call to action
Most communication will ask the individuals on the receiving end to do something, even if it’s just to read, process, and understand the information. Yet, many will walk away not fully comprehending what they’re expected to do. When you are asking others to take action on something, communicate that “call to action” clearly. Particularly in emails or presentations, it’s important to evaluate the email or presentation content/PowerPoint and ask yourself “is it clear that I’m expecting of them to ___?” In emails, it’s helpful to outline what’s expected.
Less is more in most cases, especially with communication. Evaluate your communication, especially emails, and figure out if there’s a way to more efficiently deliver your message! Remove any redundancies, unless it’s driving home a key point at the end of your message.
Involving others, even simply seeking an alternative opinion, can always positively contribute to your communication! It’s also more energizing when you add collaboration to your workflow. Especially for important presentations or documentation, we recommend having a ‘Peer QA Buddy’ to do some quick quality assurance. When you look at a product so frequently, sometimes you might miss a spelling or grammatical error, which your QA Buddy could easily catch. This can also help increase your confidence in your product when a second pair of eyes has reviewed!
Especially with individuals you’re trying to build a relationship with, you should make it a goal to establish some sort of connection! When you identify a commonality with the individual you’re communicating with, it can help build trust and rapport more quickly.
Consider using some or all of these questions in an audit of your next important pieces of communication:
- Am I delivering the right content? In a compelling and or charismatic way?
- To the right crowd?
- Via the right channel?
- Using any case studies or stories to reinforce, add credibility and/or add imagery?
- In a concise and effective way?
- Clearly summarizing and explaining a call to action (if necessary)?
- If relevant, is the information current?
- Am I minimizing any aspects that might cause confusion or chaos?
- Have I had a QA Partner/Buddy review?
Also, especially when it comes to interviews and other big meetings, practice can help get you closer to communication perfection! Here are a couple ideas for evaluating and improving your communication skills:
- Draft an outline
- Record yourself
- Mock interviews/conversations with someone you trust
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Last Updated: 2016-10-10
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