Tips for Communicating


How to approach communicating

  • Minimise (or preferably remove) distractions so you can focus on the communication.
  • Consider carefully what information you share with others and only share what’s needed to achieve the goal of the communication. Make sure you do this with best intentions and without any sort of dishonesty, deception or manipulation.
  • Start with the (end) goal(s) in mind for what you want to achieve with a communication and work out a plan to achieve those goals.
  • Because it seems “easy” to communicate, people often feel/believe they can do it with minimal (or no) preparation. However, regardless of the complexity of what needs to be communicated, it will always go better with some forethought as to how to do it.

How to focus on your audience

  • The more that you know about the person/people with whom you are communicating (and what they know about the topic of communication), the better you will be able to communicate with them.
  • Everyone has a natural preference for how they communicate and how they like to be communicated with. If you tailor your natural style to match that of the person with whom you are communicating, things will go better.

About the content and its delivery

  • Choose words carefully and ensure that everyone involved in the conversation knows what is meant by them.
  • Make sure that your words, tone and non-verbal communication are in alignment so you don’t send out mixed messages.
  • Watch out for misaligned words, tone and non-verbal communication as this is a sign that something might not be quite what it seems.
  • Wherever possible, let them go first! Finding out what they know helps to eliminate assumptions.
  • The best way to listen to someone is to be part of the conversation and actively listen. This involves paying attention, letting them talk and asking questions (to get more information and for checking understanding).
  • 1. Ask the right questions. 2. Actively listen to the answers. 3. Go to step 1 if required.
  • If you want a quick response to a question, don’t use a medium over which you have no control over when the reply comes back, e.g. email.
  • If you want to be able to refer to something accurately in the future, make sure it gets documented at the time of communication. Don’t rely on your memory of what happened as everybody will remember it differently (assuming they can remember it at all!)
  • When communicating virtually (i.e. live using technology) the technology becomes your eyes and ears and so make sure that it doesn’t get in the way of the communication itself. Test your tech!
  • When using written words, regardless of where you are using them (e.g. email, social media, etc), any tone associated with those words will be inferred by the recipient of the communication. That tone may (or may not) match the intended tone of the communication and so huge care needs to be taken if tone is being attached to words in written communications.

Mike offers training and coaching services to Help with Communicating.

You can also find more tips, best practices and examples in Mike’s book How to be BETTER at COMMUNICATING – In Person and Online.