Communicating effectively is more than transmitting information to your audience. The ability to truly engage and influence senior-level executives is a necessity for project leaders, and by exercising the right communication methods, it’s a skill that can be sharpened.
3 keys to communicating effectively include:
- Knowing your audience
- Knowing your purpose
- Knowing what – and how – to communicate
Knowing Your Audience
Knowing your audience is the first step toward effective, informative communication. Is your audience made up of executives? Or maybe senior managers? Do you know the group’s goals? What style of communication do they usually use? By understanding these questions, you can target your communication toward the group you are trying to reach. Even knowing the culture and language of a group will affect how you approach each interaction.
Knowing Your Purpose
Establishing the purpose of your communication is another question to ask yourself when preparing to talk to a group. Are you trying to share knowledge (inform), change a group’s mind about something (persuade), or compel a group to take some sort of action (direct)? If you are speaking to a group to incite action, addressing them as though you are giving a status update is not going to result in the desired outcome. Knowing your intended purpose before you begin speaking makes a big difference in the way you communicate. It is crucial to know why you are addressing a group in order to be an effective communicator.
Knowing What – and How – to Communicate
Communication is more than just the words you say. What you say, how you say it, and your body language are all critical components to effective communication. What is your tone when you are addressing a group of people? Are you speaking too quickly or without confidence? Paying careful attention to these things in practice beforehand can help your carefully chosen words have greater influence on the people you are addressing. The same is true for how you present yourself and your information. The look of your presentation materials, your posture, and making eye contact are all forms of nonverbal communication that add to the impact of your address.
After any presentation, noting what worked well, what didn’t work, and what you learned from each experience can further help you hone your skills and become a more effective communicator.
Understanding the difference between information and communication, and working to improve your interactions with the C-suite can make all the difference in moving your projects forward.
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