10 Quick Tips … to improve communications!

Communication and QuestionsI believe that each of my readers have experienced this conundrum: What else can I do to communicate more effectively with my team? Often times, we may try to create a formalized plan or approach to address communication issues. But, sometimes a small change or technique could lead to big breakthroughs. In many of my articles, I provide more complete suggestions. But in this article, I am offering ten (10) quick tips to improve communications.

Here they are:

  1.  Ask for feedbackIf a team member knows that they’re expected to participate, they’ll be more likely to do so. To encourage more active participation in meetings, tell them in advance how you would like them to contribute so they are prepared and not feel that they have been “put on the spot.”
  2.  Accept written and verbal feedbackEncouraging verbal input is important, but make it clear that you will accept written feedback. If the issue is sensitive, create a method for team members to share comments anonymously.
  3. Thank those who shareSometimes a shy team member will respond positively to a simple “thank you” that will reinforce the desired behavior. Thanking them during the meeting or exchange will have a positive effect and encourage them to repeat the behavior and possibly increase their contribution.
  4.  Risks of silenceAs a team leader, you have to deal with team members who aren’t meeting expectations, and that includes those who aren’t adding to the conversation. They must understand the impact of speaking up or not doing so. You might counsel them by using a template like this: For example, “Jim, this is the impact of your speaking up… and this is the impact of your not speaking up.” This technique will reinforce the point that they may be putting the team at risk when they withhold their experience and input.”
  5. Ask them to compose a memo – Before a meeting, ask the team members to generate a memo about a current project to help lead the discussion. Alternatively, ask them to write an article that describes the successes and areas of needed improvement on a current project. The idea is that the memo will generate some energetic discussion among team members and encourage shy team members to speak up.
  6. Persuasion – Persuasive dialogue takes place when the speaker understands the goals of the audience and aligns them with the desired position. Persuasion is a cooperative process. The audience and the speaker must work together to produce a commitment. Seek eye contact in persuasive dialogue, and minimize or eliminate the disagreements that could turn that eye contact into a threat.
  7.  PersonalizeIt helps to personalize an idea or proposition with a story. The story can be from your experience or those of someone else. This is an excellent way to help the audience connect with you as well as your idea or proposition. Statistics and other factual information are also powerful, but a story acts as a vehicle to communicate that data into a digestible format.
  8.  Start StrongA strong and dynamic start builds momentum for the continuation of your talk or presentation. You can more effectively grab your audience’s attention if you use a powerful opening line by using a relevant statistic or dramatic news headline. For example, if your presentation is about goal setting, you might share a statistic about the number people who actually write down their goals. Additionally, you can point out a statistic about the goal achievement versus non-achievement of goals by those who wrote them down and those that did not.
  9.  Visual AidsMake liberal use of relevant props or pictures to gain and sustain the interest of your audience. Since some members of your audience may be visual learners, a physical prop, a PowerPoint presentation, YouTube video, scale model or other demonstration can help them focus and concentrate.
  10.  Audience InteractionGet your audience involved by asking them to do something physical. This could be as simple as writing something on an index card, standing up, a show of hands, or break into smaller groups. Try to make eye contact with some members of the audience, and acknowledge them by name if possible.

Related Article(s):   Four Steps to a Better Presentation

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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