As A/E/C marketers and business developers, one of our most critical responsibilities is to set the tone for great communications and to serve as our firm’s role model in this area. We’re often looked upon as the coaches and promoters of the staff, the creative message drivers, the visual-aid defenders, as well as the writers and editors. In business communications, you have an opportunity to make a huge impact on your technical staff and those working around you every day.
When was the last time you thought about your communication style and the lasting impact your communications has on others? How dynamic are you at delivering information? Do you really connect with your co-workers, boss, technical staff, or your audience? Do they remember what you say? Do they take action or create change based on your message? More importantly, can you move others to action or close a deal when it counts?
No more excuses! Now is the time to take a critical look at your communication style and give it a jolt. Committing to the following five tips will get you back to a more dynamic you.
1. BE MORE PREPARED. Know your audience and gain a deeper connection through that knowledge. Everyone is busy, but that’s no excuse for not taking a few extra minutes to flex some fundamentals. Get organized on who will be in the meeting or at the presentation. Understand who they are and what’s important to them, identify what questions they may ask, outline what strengths and shortcomings you may have with communications, and know what desired outcome you want from the communications. An extra five minutes of planning before every meeting will keep you focused, efficient, and more impactful.
2. BE MORE PASSIONATE. Passion sells. It gets your point across more easily and, when backed up with data, it’s hard to beat. In presentations and meetings, learn to use vocal variety instead of sounding monotone. Pause for emphasis to let your key points sink into the audience’s thinking. Drive more interest through the sound of your voice and selection of words. Train yourself and others on how to leverage their voices to their advantage. Let them know it will help them communicate in a more expressive and deliberate way. With passion in your presentation, you become more interesting through the stories you tell, and people listen with more intent. Your team doesn’t need to turn into actors or Jack Russell terriers. Just encourage them to move the bar up 20 percent or so in intensity, even if they say it’s a little uncomfortable for them. The passion in their voices will pay off.
3. BE MORE TRUSTWORTHY. In today’s environment, it’s crucial to be trustworthy to your prospective clients. Do that by syncing up your passionate tone with dynamic and well-managed body language. Focus on eliminating any distracting movements to project a more trustworthy persona. Stand calmly and coolly (no fidgeting) to demonstrate your confidence. Learn how to strategically focus on whom you want to engage with and how you want to proceed with that engagement. Learn to command the room with your eyes and know that you can easily send the wrong signals and not even know you’re doing it. Learn to use your eye movement to your advantage.
4. BE MORE MEMORABLE. Yes, words matter. And people generally know when your words aren’t honest or don’t ring true. When speaking, stay within your comfort zone with your vernacular and expertise. Knowing all the folks you’re in front of lets you know whom to drive the message to, and at what level. Understand and master the flow of your language. For example, in your presentation, start with layman’s terms and wait for confirmation back from your audience to make sure it’s okay to move into a deeper level of detail. Then, present your closing arguments on the point. Stay concise. When you ramble, you run the risk of losing your audience. When considering what to say, always remember to answer the “So what?” question that’s always in your audience’s mind and bring forward the benefits to the listener, especially when you want to persuade them.
5. BE A CONFIDENT CLOSER. This is the most important part. Pay attention to how you finish topics, conversations, presentations, and other opportunities and drive your message home or transition to another point. When you’re selling, the last thing you say is usually a solution, benefit, past proof, or differentiator. Practice that last thing you say. Then, once you’ve made that point, pause and let it soak in. Silence, at the right time, is the most powerful thing not said. Control your closing dynamics, tell a great story, and be deliberate about the way you finish and you’ll stand out even more from the crowd. When you excel at everyday communications and formal speaking, you gain more trust and respect. You are perceived as a better leader, people retain more of what you say, and you’re able to advance your career faster. People notice when you speak with purpose. Focus on these five dynamic communication tactics and you’ll see a difference in the way your listeners pay attention. More folks will look up and listen, give a reassuring nod, become more engaged, and demonstrate greater buy-in. You’ll speak more confidently, deliver greater impact, and be a better you!
©Marketer, The Journal of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, April 2019, www.smps.org (http://www.smps.org/) -Co-authored with Josh Roberts. Thank you for allowing the reprint this article.