By August 2, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Communications – It’s more than just English 101

Communications – It’s more than just English 101

You communicate all the time in your job as a manager and as a leader, but did you think about why you communicate?

It's not just to share information, it's to influence others. When you start thinking about it this way, your communications will become more much more effective and you will get better results.

I recently delivered a workshop on Strategic Writing for a company. It’s the same workshop I’ve given for other organizations who want to elevate their ability to write well, and present a good image and influence others.

Here is a great quote about why influencing with your communications is important:

“The only people in the world who can change things are those who can sell ideas” - Louis Wyse, advertising executive

Some of the participants had the same concern that others have had related to memo’s or letters. The approach I teach is focused primarily on communicating information and influencing the reader to do what you want, whether it’s agreement, approval or to follow directions. Since the writing has a clear purpose, I teach techniques that support the purpose. Every manager needs to know how to communicate effectively and how to influence with their communications to be successful yet this soft skill is often overlooked.

What I teach is a little different from traditional writing you may have been taught in Business Communications 101 or in high school English. I don’t focus on margin size, how many tabs to indent the title block, the greeting, where to put the return address or arcane grammar rules. What I do, however, is provide samples and techniques to make your communications more effective. Some of the techniques are based on my proposal writing book – things that help influence the reader.

The techniques include shorter, tighter writing that is well structured and easy to read and easy to understand. Nobody has time to read long blocks of narrative writing anymore, and if you write them, most of what you say will be glossed over as your reader scans it for information that matters to them.

And that’s the problem. Some participants have said they were concerned the letters and memos didn’t look ‘professional’ or ‘friendly’ because it includes less narrative and more headings, bullet points, tables and other techniques to focus attention on information rather than to entertain. It doesn’t look as ‘soft’ as a page filled with paragraphs of text.

The reality is that times are changing and anyone you write to will appreciate it if you make it easier for them. They simply don’t have the time to read a long document, letter or email anymore. Adding a short greeting at the top will alleviate some of the concerns, but then you need to quickly get down to business and communicate your message.

Excellent communication is one of the most important business tools you can have, since so much of the communications you do is really about selling your ideas and influencing others, whether it’s policy and procedures, letters to customers, internal memos, your strategic plans or even business cases.

About Michel Theriault

Michel is the founder of Success Fuel for Managers. He is an author, speaker and consultant focusing on topics relevant to Managers and aspiring Managers in businesses of all sizes who want to get results, get attention, and get ahead. He is also a contributor to Forbes and AllBusiness Experts . Michel is available for speaking engagements, training and consulting. Connect with him or send an email.

Posted in: Leadership, Productivity

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