Do you have what it takes to be a great communicator?

I really  hate complexity because it’s so confusing. 

I like simplicity because it makes things clear and easy.

A device with hard to follow instructions literally makes me want to scream. It's confusing and it causes my brain to go haywire. I get frustrated, irritated and I lose interest. I may even want to throw the device at the wall. I know this is illogical and it won’t solve the problem. 

But I'm not unique. 

In fact there are more and more people just like me. That’s because our life is becoming more complicated. There's just so much going on. So much competition for our attention. So many great, crazy and bad ideas that it's very easy to get bogged down and switch off.

And that's a very big problem when you're trying to make a business connection.

The enemy of clarity

Complexity gets in the way. It makes stuff hard to understand. And that makes getting your message across and establishing a connection, even harder.

I’ve just been at a business conference for 3 days. It was about procurement in the Life Sciences sector. Not so sexy you may think, and you’d be partly right. 

There were some good sessions and speakers.

There were some great conversations. Some of us even had fun talking about stuff outside the business arena.  

But some of them struggled to get their message across. Not because they were light on knowledge, but because they didn’t communicate that well. Some were shy and retiring and not comfortable mixing with ‘strangers’. They hid behind their mobile devices and tried to look busy. Others were all business, and had no other topic of conversation to offer.

What I also noticed was the growing use of buzzwords. I thought these had died away years ago, but they seem more prevalent now than ever.

Buzzwords are another form of verbal complexity. 

They don’t mean much and they over complicate something simple.

Buzzwords don’t mean you’re smart

Often they show the opposite. They show a lack of understanding and laziness of language. When you know your stuff, why use buzzwords and complicated words?

Also, why use more words than necessary? And why use words some of your audience may not even understand? This doesn’t make communication simple and easy to understand, it makes it complicated. It creates a barrier to understanding. 

And that’s always bad.

Here are 10 examples of what I heard at the conference;

  1. ‘Value Discovery’
  2. ‘Level Playing Field’
  3. ‘Thinking outside the box’
  4. ‘Paradigm Shift’
  5. ‘Collaborative Partnerships’
  6. ’Synergistic Strategies’
  7. ‘The Journey’
  8. ‘Mutual Leverage’
  9. ‘Islands of Excellence’
  10. ‘Fail early’

The 8 qualities of a great communicator

I sat in a session that didn’t excite me. I started doodling. And when I do that my attention starts to wander. I looked at the presenter again and decided to conduct a mental experiment. I wondered what would make me sit up and take notice. Was it the topic, the speaker, the time of day, my mood or something else?

What is it that makes someone a great communicator?

I didn’t think long and hard, and I didn’t deliberate each point. I just wrote the first things that came into my head. Here’s my list;

1. Intellect

Smart people understand different concepts and ideas. They also speak intelligently about them. I like smart people because they can teach me something. And for me, that’s the sign of a great communicator. 

2. Knowledge

Experienced people have a depth of understanding and anecdotes that are interesting and thought provoking. I can learn from them and maybe even use their experience in my world. 

3. Intuition

Intuitive people sense what interests someone. This makes a conversation smooth, effortless and enjoyable. I like people who steer the conversation to my interests because that grabs my attention.

4. Charisma

When someone has a presence, they stand out from the crowd. This makes them more interesting and I’m keen to hear what they have to say. I value their opinions because I like them. I’m more open and ready to engage and share my ideas. And this makes it much easier to have a great conversation experience. This is what a great communicator can do.

5. Enthusiasm 

Excitement and interest can be infectious. When someone is genuinely motivated by an idea, cause or topic, it’s hard to ignore them. I may not share their enthusiasm or agree wth them, but they are hard to ignore.

6. Decisiveness

People who don’t have an opinion and who ‘sit on the fence’ are dull. Maybe they don’t want to upset someone, so they play it safe. But safe for me means boring. It’s a bland experience because I don’t learn anything. So I tune out. That doesn’t make them a great communicator in my book.

7. Sociability

We prefer doing business with people we like. And the ability to mix business with pleasure and have fun, is as important as making money. I like people who like me. That’s human nature by the way. And it’s great for business and social relationships.

8. Contribution

Successful people get things done. They take action and they contribute to the debate. They add value and leave you better off than before you met them. I like this a lot, because this makes me want to hear more about their thoughts and opinions. And this is the mark of a great communicator.

So what do you think?