Good communication is an often-overlooked but critical element of professional success. After all, we’ve known how to talk since we were toddlers, and we’ve been supplementing face-to-face conversations with phone, email and messaging platforms for decades — if not our entire lives.
But if communication is effortless, good communication takes an investment of time and discipline to achieve.
At CBI’s PharmaForum 2018 next month, creator and host of the chatty “Talk Stoop” TV show Cat Greenleaf will give a keynote presentation dedicated to honing your communication skills.
One thing to remember in our visually-oriented landscape is the importance of being able to tell a story. In fact, notable thinkers Steve Jobs and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg famously banned PowerPoint presentations, the idea being that visual aids can turn into a crutch that replaces verbal messaging.
“Most productive meetings are a time for discussion and working things out, not simply going through a bunch of slides,” Presentation Zen author Garr Reynolds advises.
Whatever your message, you need to deliver it clearly and concisely — a concept that’s easy to grasp, but sometimes hard to execute. Especially in business communication, it can be all too easy to hide behind buzzwords and industry jargon. If you find it hard to step away from these verbal crutches, imagine that you were explaining the topic at hand to a friend or family member in an entirely different line of work.
“It is indeed a very noisy world, and it’s getting noisier seemingly by the day. It is those… who do the hard work to clarify and simplify that will be the ones who are able to rise above the noise,” Reynolds says.
Along the same lines, experts say the best communication isn’t one-sided; dialogues are more fruitful and forge more meaningful bonds than monologues.
To achieve this, ask questions and solicit your audience’s input. “If you regularly solicit feedback, others will help you to discover areas for improvement that you might have otherwise overlooked,” Deep Patel, author of A Paperboy’s Fable: The 11 Principles of Success, writes in Entrepreneur. In addition, use verbal as well as non-verbal cues (eye contact, leaning forward, not playing with your phone) to convey interest in your audience’s response. “The majority of what you say is communicated not through words, but through physical cues,” Patel writes.
Above all, you have to engage your audience to keep their attention, whether you’re giving a speech to thousands, discussing a tricky work project over coffee with a colleague, or just meeting someone at an industry confab.
“I think good conversation can happen anywhere,” Greenleaf told New York Family magazine in an interview. That’s a good insight to take into the workplace, as well.
Susan Hill, SVP, Global Products & Solutions, AHM
Susan joined AHM in June of 2013 and is responsible for the oversight and management of AHM’s Global Business Development and Solutions and Marketing team. With over nineteen years of experience in the Life Science industry, Susan brings experience in business development, product marketing, and new technology investment and optimization.