This is part two of our three-part blog series aimed at helping you inspire others to act when you communicate. Learn how to use the “before, during and after strategy” to help you make the most of your important leadership communication opportunities.
Last month, we focused on the first part of the strategy, what you do before each communication opportunity to prepare. Today’s topic is how to truly partner with others to achieve clarity during the communication exchange.
How do you ensure your audience is following you and that you are tending to their curiosities and potential objections? When you practice being a “clarity partner” in all live and written communication scenarios, you increase the effectiveness of your exchanges and inspire others to take action.
At the heart of this approach to communication is my belief that leaders inspire people to take action by what and how they communicate.
When you take time to prepare for your communications you ensure that what you are communicating is relevant and applicable to the audience. When you are in the act of communicating - whether it be live, recorded, or written, how you deliver your message impacts whether your audience takes action or not.
Being present and committed during any communication opportunity is key to your ability to connect to your audience. It is through that connection that you build trust and earn the right to influence others.
There are two roles to play in any communication exchange. The part when you are sharing info and ideas and the part when you are receiving info or ideas from others. Because not all people have the skills or desire to communicate effectively, it’s even more important to intentionally choose your role in a communication exchange.
When you are sharing info and ideas focus on these behaviours:
Connect - Connecting with your audience is key to building trust. When it’s a live opportunity connect by asking an opening question like “how is your day going?” Connect as a team by taking a moment to start your meetings by asking each person to share how they are. Connect in writing by using the first sentence to ask about the audience or share something relevant to them.
Articulate - Articulating your ideas clearly increases the chances of reaching mutual understanding. For high-stakes opportunities, prepare in advance (link to the prep resource), and when you are communicating in the moment pay attention to presenting your ideas in a clear and organized way.
Pause - Pausing creates “verbal white space” for others to think about and understand what you are saying. When you are speaking with someone live, pause after each main idea to create space for them to follow your ideas. When writing, show your audience clear breaks in your ideas by using “verbal signposts” (i.e. numbering your points) to illustrate your key ideas.
When you are receiving info and ideas focus on these behaviours:
Listen - Listening signals to your audience that you are present and engaged. Face your body towards the person or screen and remove any distractions. A similar technique can be used when you are reading a written communication by picturing the person who is sending it (if you know them) or by simply taking a moment to clear your desk to make space to effectively receive someone’s message.
Repeat - Repeating back the main points you hear ensures you are accurately tracking what is being shared. This step is often overlooked in email and other written communication; however, when an email is not clear it is important to clarify what you think was said by reflecting it back or asking some clarifying questions. Never answer when you aren’t sure of the question. Take the time needed to fully read or hear what that other person is communicating.
Confirm - Confirming your understanding before moving forward ensures all parties are acting on data and not assumptions. End all communication scenarios by taking time to summarize any next steps that were discussed.
Communicating in a way that inspires people to act requires preparing in advance, staying present during execution, and committing to follow-up.
Over the next few weeks, use this cheat sheet to help you pay specific attention to what role you are playing in your communication opportunities. Notice the positive impact of choosing to be a clarity partner in your exchanges!
Next month we will complete our three-part blog series with ideas about what to do after each communication to ensure that action is taken.