How well do you communicate?

There are virtually no restrictions on how we convey information today through the myriad of communications vehicles that are available.

How well do you communicate?

There are virtually no restrictions on how we convey information today through the myriad of communications vehicles that are available.

From newsletters to magazines, streaming videos, email blasts, social media, direct mail, as well as traditional media such as print, town hall style meetings and face-to-face to name a few. About the only thing we are missing, although some people claim to have it, is mental telepathy.

However, despite all that is available, communications still cause businesses problems. George Bernard Shaw once said, “The greatest problem with communication is the assumption that it has taken place.”

That quote speaks volumes and is a good place to start for it tells us that as a business you must make absolutely sure you are not only conveying the right message but also reaching the right people with it.

The first thing to remember is that communication is a dialogue not a monologue. Good communication, in order to be effective, relies on the fact that both the sender and the receiver, to use a familiar adage, are “on the same page.”

This gives rise to a series of questions that you need to ask in order to make the most of your business communications.

How well do you know the person you are trying to communicate with? What are their needs, desires or perceptions of your product or service? Remember, the first thing someone wants to know about you and what you have to offer is … what is in it for them? In other words do you know who your best customers are and why they buy from you?

The next series of questions to ask revolves around the communication vehicle or media that you chose to use to convey your message. Depending on what you are selling, will the media reach the person you want to communicate with? Is it cost effective in delivering your audience?

Equally important to knowing who your customers are and what media they are most likely to use is ensuring your message is on target. Are you using the right words? Do you use images that are relevant and graphics that help the reader or viewer grasp what you are saying? Is your message consistent with your overall strategy? Are you using plain language that highlights your unique selling points and the benefits of dealing with you?

Communication can be broken down into two main categories: verbal and non-verbal.  If we further analyse them, verbal can be broken down into oral and written with written being the most common form.

With so much reliance on using social media, the internet, newspapers and other forms of print media, there is a danger today of not placing much importance on the oral and non-verbal aspects of communication. Notwithstanding the broadcast media and video, careful attention should be placed on how businesses present themselves in face-to-face situations.

Again more questions need to be asked. When speaking in public do you or your employees convey the right message and image? Careful consideration should be given to appearance and presentation. What about clothing, tone of voice and body language? Sometimes non-verbal communication such as posture and gesture can adversely impact on the effectiveness of a message.

The bottom line is that you must be prepared to take serious stock of how you communicate, on all levels, ensuring you are conveying the right message, to the right person at the right time. And most important that they understand what you are saying. As Shaw said, when it come to communications, don’t make assumptions.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca.

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