The internet, mobile devices and social media have changed the way people communicate. Face-to-face discussions and conversations over the phone have largely given way to video conference calls and text messaging.
Communication involves the exchange of information. Communication may seem straightforward, but it’s anything but in a world in which there are so many ways to share and access information. Individuals who aspire to be more effective communicators will have to tailor their lessons according to the mode of communication being used. Someone who may be a whiz at crafting an email and distributing it may fall flat when asked to speak to a crowd in a meeting, and vice versa. Despite that, there are some general rules that work across various modes of communication.
Learn to listen
Listen before you speak is a good tip to follow. Effective communication requires good listening skills according to the professionals at Harvard University. Active listening is an undervalued skill. Once you learn it, you can learn about the other speaker and craft responses and questions accordingly based on the information you’ve gleaned.
Know your audience
Customize your message based on the audience. For example, you wouldn’t use the same vocabulary for a group of kindergarteners as you would for a class of college students. Tailor your message, words and energy around who is on the receiving end of your words.
Have a goal in mind
Think about why you are trying to get a message across. You may be there to inspire or provide support. Perhaps your goal is to advocate for a cause. Knowing your goal can help you craft a consistent and clear message.
People tend to be pressed for time. And if tweets and texts have taught us anything, sometimes it’s best to keep communication brief for it to be most effective. Busy individuals will not want to wade through paragraphs of text or hear hours of speech. Therefore, learn to edit what you have to say to get to the point and make it stick.
Be vivid with your message
A picture paints a thousand words, so try to harness that concept when developing your messages. Select lively verbs and use descriptive language so your message will be memorable.
Try to avoid too many idioms, particularly when communicating with a diverse audience. A saying that is well known to you may not be received the same way by someone from a different background.
Use the right method
It’s easy to send a group text or go on social media and reach a wide audience. But there’s a time and a place for various methods of communication. Offering condolences via text may be viewed as insincere, while a hand-written card may be more welcomed. Critical communications with staff are best done one-on-one, rather than through email.