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Effective Communication Is Something You Learn, Not Something You're Born With



Effective Communication Is Something You Learn, Not Something You're Born With
8 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Silver-tongued orators are like world-class magicians. They float onto the stage with enviable swagger. They use choice material, and their compelling delivery keeps audiences rapt. They know that to touch the heart is to affect change; to stir the imagination is to inspire action.


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Learning to communicate effectively

Learning to communicate effectively

Effective communication is an attainable and deliberately acquired skill set, one that can be learned and practiced over time.

While it’s true that individual attributes can make these abilities easier to acquire, there is nothing that the world’s best communicators have that you can’t acquire through hard work.




Smoke out original though

Smoke out original though

To become a more effective communicator, you must 'smoke out' original thought. Rather than conforming to the status quo, make a conscious decision to abandon overdone and clichéd material/

Citing tired platitudes might win you a few "cool points" in social media circles, but they will only take you so far if you're truly striving to effectuate change. 



Prepare an impactful delivery

Prepare an impactful delivery

Once you’ve developed a fresh idea, work on organizing your message and polishing your delivery. Think about:

  • How  you will launch a stunning opening and closing line
  • How you will organize your material succinctly so that it is both moving and memorable (perhaps tweetable and repeatable)
  • Compelling details that should be included.
  • Your vocal and non-verbal communication (body language).



Ask for feedback

Ask for feedback
It's often a good idea to send your draft material to someone you trust for honest, constructive feedback.

Practice it in front of someone with a good eye and ear for impeccable delivery. Whatever you do, don't become defensive. Throw your ego out the door and apply what you learn.



Use active listening to your advantage

Use active listening to your advantage

Poor listening skills create roadblocks to communication, especially when the single-minded goal of the speaker is to be heard.

A speaker communicates best while he or she listens actively, which helps them to respond more organically to the needs of the audience, while simultaneously expanding their understanding of the nuanced dialogue taking place. 



George Bernard Shaw



Real communication

Real communication

... involves purposeful exchanges between all interested parties

If you’re doing all the talking, you’re not maximizing opportunities to create reciprocal understanding or expand the reach of your thought leadership. 



Real dialogue

Real dialogue

Develop rapport by engaging in real dialogue.

People who engage in dynamic, interactive dialogues, rather than defaulting to stale monologues, establish trust, develop rapport and experience greater empathy from their audiences.



Follow-up with your audience

Follow-up with your audience

Check in with your audience to make sure that they "got" what you intended to give:

  • Emphasize the main points of the presentation by strategically reintroducing them at the end.
  • Elicit feedback and answer audience questions, especially when a live Q&A session is part of the engagement. It allows the audience to flesh out any unanswered questions, resolve any misunderstandings and walk away with greater value.




Effective communicators rely on structure

  • People will retain structured information up to 40% more accurately than information that is presented without structure.
  • Having a clear structure for communicating helps you...

The 3-I's: Issue, Illustration, Invitation

  1. Outline your issue or explain your idea in simple terms
  2. Use an illustration to expound on your main point - it can be funny or inspirational stories, jokes, metaphors, or analogies. 
  3. Give an invitation, a way in which your listener is able to respond. Your goal is to throw the ball into your listener’s court. It can be as simple as “What do you think?”

The 3-Ws: What? So what? Now what?

  1. Define your key idea or argument concisely. You should be able to boil it down to one sentence, or two at most.
  2. The “So what?” forces you to answer the question of why the issue should matter to your audience. Explain how your listeners will be affected if they don’t respond to the issue. Make use of research or evidence.
  3. The “Now what?” is where you give your listener a concrete way to move forward to the next immediate step. 

one more idea

Ignore your inbox when you wake up

Responding to emails as soon as you receive a notification gives others the impression that you’re at their beck and call. It also prevents you from reflecting on your own priorities for...

Empty your inbox daily

  • Do. If the email is actionable and takes under two minutes, then do the task ASAP.
  • Delegate. Forward the right tasks to the right people.
  • Defer. Reply to the message at a better time.
  • Delete emails that are not important or that you can delegate. 
  • File. Add messages that contain information you will need to your archives.

Stop CC’ing everyone

To avoid filling the email box of staff members, only CC the relevant parties. Ask your team to respond to you individually instead of using the reply-to-all button.

Only give advice when asked

Unsolicited advice sends a message that you're jumping in because they can't handle the problem. It leaves them feeling less competent and capable, undermining their ability to handle the situation...

Offer information

When giving advice, people with more experience often make the mistake of assuming that they know best.

To offer expertise in a way that's truly helpful, use it to inform the person about the decision at hand. Tell them what you know about their options, possibly offering a recommendation, then let them use that information to make a sound decision.

Help think through the problem

Instead of imposing your opinion, guide them through the process you might use to reach a conclusion. Ask the questions you would ask yourself, and give them an opportunity to talk through the options with you. That approach will help build problem-solving skills that translate to future dilemmas.