Prevent these 8 communication mistakes and make sure your message is heard
How many times has this happened? You send a message or request to a key stakeholder, potential customer or journalist, then sit and watch your fingernails grow while you wait an eternity for a response that may never come.
It has been said that to be a good leader, you must also be a great communicator. If you don’t learn to communicate effectively, you will waste a lot of time spinning your wheels in frustration. Avoid these common mistakes to help ensure that your message is heard:
Mistake #1: Being unclear, indirect and not making the most important points quickly. Many companies try to “butter up” the audience before getting to the heart of the message. Others often commit the opposite crime of speaking or writing as if the audience members are already experts on the topic. Anything that is filled with either technical jargon or unnecessary fluff is likely to be ignored.
Mistake #2: Not paying attention to body language. When communicating in person, it is crucial to remember that you’re speaking not only with your mouth, but with your entire body, as well. Therefore, it’s easy to send the wrong message with non-verbal signals such as not making eye contact or crossing your arms. And don’t forget: A smile goes a long way.
Mistake #3: Me, me, me, me, me. In your personal life, you probably hate it when you’re stuck talking to someone who only talks about himself; you don’t want to be that person in your professional life. People will quickly tune you out if you do this. Your message should be more about how your company, product or client can add value to the customer or stakeholder. Don’t forget to ask for feedback and opinions.
Mistake #4: Being a Negative Nellie. Try to keep messages positive – no one wants to hear bad news and criticism all the time. Even when these things must be conveyed, how you say it can be as important as what you say. While you shouldn’t try to sugarcoat or make light of something serious, be sure to explain steps being taken to fix the issue, which also provides a chance to include a positive bent. For particularly troublesome news, make sure it’s delivered in person.
Mistake #5: Not practicing what you preach. If you constantly advocate one action but people see you do the opposite, you’ve discovered one of the fastest ways to lose the respect of your audience. Without trust, any message you try to convey will seem suspect.
Mistake #6: Relying on “business-speak.” Unfortunately for many companies, their messages often sound as if they’ve been sanitized by a room full of attorneys. In order to relate to your customers, you must speak their language. Use friendly, conversational tones in your communications and save the legalese for pressing corporate matters.
Mistake #7: Not listening. One half of all communication is listening. If you ever find that you’re doing all the talking, stop. This is the perfect opportunity to ask questions, elicit advice and get to know your customers better.
Mistake #8: Not hiring the right PR firm to handle communication issues. At Axia, we provide assistance in communicating with all your audiences in any situation, from handling media during a crisis to increasing awareness of your company with potential customers. We have proven success in helping clients develop overall communication strategies that get results. Contact us today to learn more.
Lisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter at @axiapr.