The most frequent feedback I receive regarding skills that communicators need to improve comes from executives seeking communication counsel. These executives are heavily anchored in strategy and numbers. All view accountability as something you count on the bottom line.
Communicators have backgrounds anchored in creativity and relationship building. Few communicators have had to translate the results they achieve into measurable results and bottom line contributions. Only a few know how. Communication managers should be able to knowledgeably discuss and debate business strategy with the CEO and the executive team. Integrating knowledge of communication strategy with business strategy is value that no one else in the organization can offer.
TUDOR WILLIAMS, ABC, MC
Tudor Williams Inc., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Communicators need to enhance their oral skills. Leadership is primarily an oral skill. It's pretty tough to follow a memo. Strategy is about oral skill. Advising and coaching others is an oral skill.
The discipline of oral skill is to communicate with great power driven by extreme brevity. Learn the one minute rule. Speak in 150-word knowledge bites (about one minute's speaking time). Divide the word count of every document you write by 150 to see how many minutes it will take someone to read it. People don't read long texts much anymore, Talk to them.
Say everything you write out loud. Then edit the text so it is positive and sounds like you. Let them "hear and see" you as they read. They will believe you. They will follow. Be a verbal visionary.
JAMES E. LUKASZEWSKI, ABC, APR
The Lukaszewski Group Inc.
White Plains, N.Y., USA
Communicators should measure their own communication effectiveness and let the company know the value of their work. Think more strategically and not so much tactically. Help others be better communicators instead of assuming the communication responsibility yourselves. Segment internal audiences as well as external--not everyone has the same communication needs and interests.
If we concentrate on the need for listening, we will develop active listening skills. Using quantitative tools, focus groups or proactive interviews with executives, ask them: What do you need from me? How can I help you to become a better communicator? And always follow a golden listening rule: If you ask, make sure to listen. Then do something with the...