Developing communication skills for your success
Developing Communication Skills
Are you looking to develop you your communication skills? Here are three steps to put you on the right track:
- Take time to understand how communication works
- Adopt a consistent method for your communication skills
- Develop a communicator’s mindset
- Learn from your experience of applying this to develop your communication skills
Take time to understand how communication works
To be a great house builder you’ll need to understand the elements of a building and how they work together to hold it up. For example, the foundations, floors, framework, gyprocking / dry walling, plumbing, electricity roofing and so on. All these elements form a framework for understanding how buildings work. How does this relate to developing communication skills?
The same applies if you want to be a great communicator. You need to understand the key elements and how they work with each other to create a communication piece or interaction.
I talk about this as a communication framework in my book Bullseye! – Getting the RIGHT message to the RIGHT audience.
In the book I talk about four elements that you need to know intimately throughout the communication process because they directly affect your communication success or failure. These elements are:
Purpose drives the direction of your message or content. The sharper your purpose is the sharper your message or content will be. If your purpose is vague you can end up achieving nothing out of the exchange or meet someone else’s purpose. All communication will be driven by a purpose whether it is your purpose or someone else’s.
Audience is critical because communication does not happen without an audience. Lose your audience and you shut down your message. That’s why knowing your target audience becomes critical so you can keep them “tuned in” to your message or content.
Medium is the thing that sends your message. There are lots of media to choose from. Social media like FaceBook through to blogs, documents videos and speeches. Some media work better than others depending on your message, audience or situation. A smart communicator makes an effort to understand the pros and cons of each media so that they can use them most effectively.
Content is simply the subject matter you include in your message or …”content”. It needs to be accurate and appropriate to your audience and purpose.
Why do you think it’s important to understand how communication works through this particular framework?
Fail in how you use any of these elements and you can fail in your communication.
Including the wrong content can turn the reader away. Lacking a purpose might not just turn away your audience but achieve a very different purpose to what you wanted. Not knowing your audience can lead to driving them away with your content.
If you want to develop your communication skills, start evaluating different communication situations by what is happening in the purpose, audience, medium and content. You’ll learn what works and doesn’t work as you observe and start applying the successful bits to your own communication.[message type=”info”]Take time to understand how purpose, audience, medium and content work with each other to create a communication piece. These influencing elements form a communication framework that will help you see how communication works and doesn’t work.[/message]
But developing your communication skills doesn’t stop here…
Adopt a proven communication method as part of your communication skills
What would happen if an electrician arrived on a building site to put in the wiring AFTER the gyprock (or drywall) was plastered on the frames? Or the plumber arrived on the site to lay the piping AFTER the concrete floor slab was laid?
You would lose a lot of time and money by having to undo the existing work and then complete the plumbing and electrical.
That’s why there is a proper process for building a house that will save time and money. For the same reason there needs to be a method to communicating that also saves you time and money. A method that accounts for the elements of the framework in an order that gives you a great result.
I use the Bullseye! methodology, which you can read about in my book Bullseye! – Getting the RIGHT message to the RIGHT audience. The method is university validated and shown in a study amongst business owners and professors to increase productivity by 50%. It is also used for communication training amongst incoming professors at the largest college district in the USA.
The Bullseye method has five steps:
- Gather your intelligence (purpose, audience, medium and content)
- Structure your message or content
- Flesh out your content
- Review your message or content
- Deliver for success!
You need to know your communication purpose first if you want to be successful, followed by your audience, medium and the kind of content you might use. That’s why the method begins with gathering that type of “intelligence”.
It would be silly to write something first and then go back to the purpose. You’ll lose time and have to rewrite a lot of what you already have written. Similarly, it’s best to work out your structure first before actually fleshing out your structure and writing the content.
A good method doesn’t just get a great result but it also saves time and money.[message type=”info”]Use a proven method to develop your communication. It needs to guide you through the key influencing elements in the right order to maximise your communication success.[/message]
But there is one thing more you need to develop your communication skills. The right communication mindset
The communicator’s mindset
Successful communicators tend to have a particular view of the world that is unique to their craft. Sort of like car salesmen, teachers or musicians.
Car salesmen are wired to look at people as potential customers for the right car. How many teachers have you heard correct spelling “because that’s what I do most when marking papers”? Or consider musicians who listen to music at a concert differently than non-musicians. They listen to specific elements in the music that will help them grow in their art that the average person won’t hear.
A professional communicator’s radar is constantly tuned to elements of audience and how that might impact a communication or interaction. They watch different media and look out for the differences that will help their messages better. They also have an active interest in people and the world, because this helps them relate to different audiences better.
Further, a successful communicator is constantly monitoring the success of their interactions or communication pieces to see what they need to work on. They are constantly looking for new ways to improve their communication skills. Each success or failure is a lesson in how to improve their next project.[message type=”info”]To develop your communication skillset, you need to develop a communicator’s mindset and begin seeing the world as a communicator.[/message]
Perhaps the best thing about developing your communication skills is that you’ll start growing and never stop growing. You’ll deepen you understanding of how communication works every time you observe an interaction or create a new communication piece. You can become efficient and powerfully successful at it as you follow and own a good communication process. And with the mindset of a communicator, you’ll grow in your knowledge of yourself and the world around you.
The side effect of all this? Great communication!
Here’s to your communication success.