Chief Executive Officer
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
– George Bernard Shaw
The amount of information circulating in your organization has probably increased significantly in the last few years. Is it translating into actions and results? Or is it piling up and creating a logjam to communication?
The growth in available data creates a lot of business opportunities. Many leaders, however, struggle because they lack the skills to rise above the information overload and truly engage their key stakeholders. Attention spans are getting shorter; trust — where it exists at all — is increasingly fragile; and sustaining commitment to any initiative is hard in an environment of constant and accelerating change.
Given these challenges, how are you going to achieve your goals for 2017? Whether you are leading a business, pitching your firm’s services or managing difficult conversations with a team, your ability to motivate people to think and act differently will be critical to your success.
→ Connect to a passion or pain point
People pay attention when they experience a direct connection between what they hear and something they care about. Are you solving their problem? Are you helping them achieve a goal? If you do not make these connections clear within the first few sentences, the people you are speaking with will begin to check out mentally. Getting out of your own head and into the perspective of your listeners or readers is a key step towards engaging people.
→ Tell simple, memorable stories
You do not need to become an actor or professional storyteller to bring some of the basic techniques of storytelling into your business communications. Recall a movie that has stayed with you. You can probably replay its story in a few sentences. Why? Because it was simple, had a recognizable structure, and created strong images. It connected with you emotionally.
Distill everything you want to get across into one clear sentence, jettison all but the most critical PowerPoints, and use real business examples people can relate to. Convey your ideas through visual language and a structure that grabs attention and takes people with you. Take a risk: give your listeners the answer, and then tell them how you got there. Think of the first few minutes of “Saving Private Ryan” or “Citizen Kane”.
→ Build trust
At a time when everyone is worried about fake news and echo chambers, the bar to becoming trusted keeps rising. Stakeholders wants to engage with people they feel are authentic, are focused on their priorities, and will deliver. Facts are vital, but an emotional connection is frequently just as important. If you generate trust, your listeners will open their minds and hearts to you.
Despite the challenging environment, you can turn the illusion of communication into reality by focusing consistently on these three actions.