The reality is, we’re all time-challenged these days. And one of the biggest time drains is ineffective communication. It’s frustrating to have repeat conversations, send secondary emails and continue to follow up when you think an issue is closed. And it’s a waste of time for everyone involved when you have to keep cycling back to step one, repeating the same details over and over again.
This is common in business because, as I said, we’re all busy. And sometimes it just takes multiple mentions for a message to fully sink in. But this challenge is easy to improve, both as a communicator and a listener.
Here are 14 communication tips you can do to make more of your input stick, eliminate all of the conversation do-overs and get clarity the first time around.
- Take Notes: Taking notes is easy to do when you’re on a call, in a meeting or even as you read through emails, and it will help you retain vital information the first time around.
- Use Bullets: In your written communication, bulleted lists make certain points stand out and are easier for your recipient to absorb.
- Number To-Do’s: Whether you are sending a task list to a team member or creating one for yourself, numbering to-do items makes them more actionable.
- Follow Up in Writing: While you may be taking notes during phone or in-person meetings, the other party may not be, so it never hurts to send a written follow-up message with an overview of the meeting after the fact to make sure you’re on the same page.
- Provide a Summary: Long messages, especially those in writing, are overwhelming. If the length is necessary and can’t be reduced, insert a 2-3 sentence summary at the beginning to let the reader know what’s to come.
- Use Agendas: Agendas give meetings structure and keep everyone on time. Use an agenda for each meeting you have and be sure to follow it closely. If new issues pop up, schedule a follow-up meeting.
- Be Prepared: Once you have an agenda prepared, you should take time to make sure your action items are ready to go. Have all of the information you need to discuss on-hand.
- Encourage Input from Others: Communication is a two-way street, so if you’re not allowing others to have a say, something is lacking. Focus on creating a give and take in your communication.
- Talk Slower: Sounds obvious, but fast-talking is something you may not even be conscious you are doing. Slow down and it will be easier for the other party to hear and understand what you’re saying.
- Follow Email Etiquette Rules: Make sure your emails are conforming to general formatting and content rules.
- Schedule Calls: To avoid mid-day interruptions and time wasted playing phone tag, make it a standard practice to schedule calls in advance. It can be a huge time-saver and make your phone conversations shorter and more productive.
- Pick the Appropriate Time and Format: Important messages can be missed when the messenger’s timing and delivery is off. Use an appropriate format for the message and be sure it’s a good time for the listener to hear it.
- Limit Distractions: Cut down on external distractions when you’re in the communication zone, including other calls or emails popping up.
- LISTEN: Listed last, but probably the most important communication tip. You can’t communicate well unless you are a good listener, so make sure you are taking time to stop talking, hear, and fully understand what others are saying during every conversation.
What tips would you add to this list that will help maximize effective communication?
Image credit: Pawe? Zawistowski