5 Ways to Communicate More Effectively

Effective communication is a key skill for successful leadership. I have put together 5 habits that you can implement right away to improve communication with your team.

Communication keys

1. Listen

The most important thing to consider when you’re communicating with your team is your ability to listen. Communication is primarily listening and then verifying what you thought you heard.

2. Use Visuals

The second way to communicate effectively with your team is to use visuals. I use visuals in my presentations for this reason. When I tell a story, a relevant image paints a strong picture in your mind. Heck, if you read the quote at the end of this article, and know who Chris Hadfield is, you’re more likely to remember the point above.

By using visuals, your point suddenly becomes more clear. Aim to use visuals whenever possible to make sure that the concepts that you are communicating are resonant and are absorbed more completely by the people who hear them.

3. Think through what you want to say first.

Prepare. Sit down and think through what you want to say. Make notes.

We’ve all been to meetings where the person leading the meeting hasn’t done any preparation. There’s no agenda and it’s just a waste of people’s time. You don’t get nearly as much done as you possible could have. You are more likely to deliver your message effectively if you prepare it in advance.

4. Get lost in the message

Forget that you’re actually speaking. This comes with proper preparation, but it also comes with simply feeling the message that you’re delivering. Something happens when you get lost in the message — your body actually starts to move. You start to have hand motions, body motions and this body language actually helps communicate, persuade, and be more effective in your communication. When we start thinking too much about what we’re going to say and the exact mechanics of how we’re delivering our message, then we come across as robotic and it’s a really ineffective way to communicate.

So just get lost in the message. Feel free to use your body language. Also, feel free to embrace your quirks. Some people say “um” “ah” “like” “like I said” and if you’re going to speak like that embrace your imperfections! If you want to change your spoke style, change it a little bit, but not too much. Simply getting lost in your message will improve your communication and make it a lot more effective.

5. Remember the rank of communication methods.

There is a rank in communication methods that is used especially when you’re communicating serious and important information.

  1. In person matters most. Get in person, get in front of the person, have a face to face. There is a lot that gets lost even through the phone, Skype, and certainly through email. In person is the best way to communicate but the world moves fast and people are busy so this is not always possible.
  2. Video conference. Sometimes it can be quite frustrating using video conferencing, if the technology cuts out, or is not up to speed. But, when you have a successful video conference you can see facial expressions, you can interact with the person and it’s a great way to relate.
  3. Telephone. When you communicate through a telephone you can hear the voice on the other side and you can hear the messages that are said to you. You can hear enunciations and tone that you can’t hear over email.
  4. Project management tools. There are many project management tools that are now accessible to us in this modern internet age: Asana, Trello, Slack. Using these tools is effective. They keep you focused and on task. They help you get more done within your organization and within your team.
  5. Email. I feel like so much context is lost in email. I try my best to write politely and be effective through email but different people inevitably communicate in different ways. Some people are short and pointed in email and are really nice in person – simply because they are focused online. Other people need to have flowery context around the points within their email. It’s important to understand the different ways that people communicate on email and not read between the lines too much. If you have any issues with email, quickly elevate communication to phone, video conferencing or preferably in-person.
  6. Text. Text is short and sweet. You lose a lot of context with text. But texting can be very effective, especially when you need things done quickly or you need to grab someone’s attention. I like using emoticons to bring context, make my team co-ordinator Shani smile, and, simply, to have fun.
  7. Social media. At the bottom of the list is social media. When you communicate sensitive information, you are less likely to get a thoughtful, deep and honest response, and more likely to be harassed with over-charged rhetoric. Whenever possible, elevate more serious topics to a higher form of communication.

I hope you try some of these communication tips with your team and that they help you to become a better person and a better leader. Onwards and upwards.

Chris Hadfield listening skills

Send Adam Kreek a message on Twitter @adamkreek. You can also find more tips to improve your body, mind and soul on the Don’t Change Much website or through Adam’s column on CBC Sports.

Adam delivers authentic keynotes, workshops and seminars for corporate, government and not-for-profit organizations worldwide.  Please contact us for information about our offerings.