A recent Dilbert cartoon by Scott Adams featured an employee explaining to his supervisor why he had not finished assignments discussed in the last meeting. “Because your communications skills are so poor that I had no idea I was supposed to do a task.” Adding insult to injury, another staff member asked belatedly, “Did I have a task?”
Filling up the air (gab, gab, gab) or the page/screen (endless copy, confusing emails, etc.) will not generate the spontaneous response you desire. Saying more, writing more, can often result in directional bloat or, in Dilbert’s case, “what task?”
We live in a world of information overload. Strong communications skills are necessary just to get above the din. Even then, your job is far from over. You still have to motivate your target audience toward the desired next step.
So go lean and mean in 2021.
Lean: Strive for conciseness.
Before you communicate, know precisely what your message is. If you can’t distill your goal into a short sentence, expect the audience to be confused.
- Grab attention with your opening line. That first sentence should indicate why this situation involves your listener/reader.
- Stick to the bottom line, providing only the facts necessary. Cloud the issue with unnecessary details and your audience begins to glaze over.
- Use easy-to-digest snippets. Think, talk and write in bullet points. This gives the audience organization, closure and breathing time between topics.
Mean: Let your audience know what you mean.
To get above the din, make the message about the audience. Why should he care? How does this involve him? What does he get out of making time to listen/read your communications?
- Quickly establish the goal of the message. Remember, use terms of benefit to the audience. “You need to grow your business.” “Your role is to . . .”
- Travel through your points establishing only the background necessary.
- Conclude with a call to action.
- Provide additional details, answers to questions in return emails/in response to requests for further discussion.
The sheer volume of communication gets greater every year, and 2013 will be no exception. Communicate and keep it short.
For more clues on improving your communications skills, contact us.
Bullet Points, Business Writing, Communications, Concise, Leadership, Lean, Mean, Public Speaking