Communicating with clarity unto the other person that which you want him to communicate unto you if your positions were reversed.
You must have heard this in countless American films, especially courtroom dramas that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. Similarly, the burden of clarity in communication is always on the communicator. But, why is that though? Why is it that only the communicator must shoulder the entire responsibility? But ask yourself that in being a communicator, whether at a workplace or in a social situation haven’t you taken on the responsibility upon yourself? The only option, according to us, at that point is whether you are choosing to be a clear, effective, and persuasive communicator or not!
Now that we have established that the sole responsibility (or at least the bulk of it) lies with the communicator, we can move to the next part: “what strategies we can follow to improve our communication skills and the clarity in our communication.” Here, we will share with you seven tips that will enable you to communicating with clarity. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
- Know your audience:
If you have read any book in marketing worth its salt, you would have read that there is nothing more important than knowing your audience. For communicating with clarity, you will need to tailor your message to your audience. You wouldn’t address a large gathering of people from a varied background in the same way you would address your co-workers, for example. This works both ways— the more you understand your audience, the better they would understand you. There is no point in being an expert if your audience can’t understand a word of what you’re saying (alright, that’s a bit extreme, but you know where we are going with this). It is also usually a good idea to learn about your audience beforehand— their motivations, their backgrounds and use that information to your advantage.
Let us give you an example. Let’s say you want to request some time off from your boss. Now, what does he really want to hear? That how is he going to delegate the work in your absence. What your boss wants to know is that there wouldn’t be any loose ends while you are away on vacation and that you are on top of all your responsibilities.
- Avoid jargon at all costs:
Albert Einstein famously said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Jargon is a terminology (word(s)/phrase(s)) that are only used by people in the field. But, if you are presenting, for example, in front of hundreds of people from all walks of life and you use an acronym that is only understood by a select few, you are never going to be able to connect with your audience. Some of the phrases (especially in the business world), for example, have been used to the point that they have lost all significance. Phrases such as: plug and play, manage the optics, rubber meets the road, sharpen your pencil etc. Whenever possible, avoid using such phrases and just speak as you would in a non-business setting.
- Don’t beat around the bush:
There is nothing more annoying that someone in a business meeting who takes forever to come to the point. And the real reason behind this annoyance is that that same point could have been made with a lot fewer words, saving everyone’s precious time. You should always look to be direct without offending anyone. We propose using 3W Feedback Model. Each of the 3W’s represents steps that you should follow in order:
What: Describe the situation and be specific. Use “I” instead of “You” at the start. Ensure that your descriptions are based on your own observations, and not on hearsay or assumptions.
Why: Describe the impact of what you have observed. Feel free to skip the feedback if there isn’t a significant impact.
Way: Describe (clearly) what you propose as a replacement behaviour. The focus should, again, be on being succinct.
Let us give you an example. Imagine you are living with a roommate and you want to confront your roommate because he has left dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. You could say something along these lines:
“I have noticed that for the past three days you have left your dishes unwashed in the kitchen sink. I wanted to bring this up because I usually have lunch later than you, which leaves me with no other option that to move your dishes. As you know, I have some serious food allergies and I am never sure what can potentially flare them up. So, I would really appreciate if you would take a minute to rinse and remove your dishes whenever you’re done eating.”
This approach is clear and direct, without being adversarial.
- Make connections with the audience:
We began by saying that the biggest key to communicating with clarity with the audience is to know your audience well. Once you have done your homework, you can use it to your advantage. Use examples and analogies that your audience already knows, and try to establish connections with the idea you are trying to communicate. And when you do that your idea/content will surely resonate at a deeper level with the audience.
- Art of storytelling is your friend:
If you have read our earlier articles (if you haven’t, we would urge you to do so) you will know how much we have emphasised the art of storytelling. If you really want to connect with people, i.e. you want them to understand you, tell them an interesting story or use a relevant example that they can relate to. Did you know that over 90% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously, so evoking emotions in your audience is going to have a significant effect on their minds. This is especially true if you are trying to explain something that is complex or highly technical in nature. If you can manage to weave a story around it, there is good chance you will be successful in making them understand, however complex the idea/concept may be.
- Use images to reinforce your idea:
Images are a great way to support your explanations. If you can help your audience visualise what you are trying to explain, it is likely that it will stay with them a lot longer. Be sure to illustrate your ideas with a picture, a drawing, a diagram or a chart to help people understand you better.
The beauty of this is maybe you have a certain people in the audience who may not be native speakers of the language you are presenting in and for them the language barrier might prevent them from hanging on to every word you are saying, but they will surely connect with the visual representation of your idea.
- Always focus on benefits and consequences:
You are not likely to influence people by just talking about the features unless you can back it up with the tangible ways in which those features are likely to benefit your audience. Thing long and hard about the reason why you are trying to communicating with clarity with your audience. If you want to persuade your audience, explain the consequences to them. What are the actual results of applying your concepts?
If you look carefully at all the seven tips and strategies that we have given you to communicating with clarity, you will notice each of them has a benefit, a reason and a consequence and if you just follow this one guiding principle, you will see yourself communicating with clarity in no time at all.