Communication, verbal or not, is our way of getting in touch with people – or even animals, for that matter. Without communication, we won’t be able to build relationships, we’ll be locked in our own worlds and we’ll never get whatever we want to say out to our fellow human beings.
Furthermore, the money-making success secret of businesses, whether small or big and using online or offline marketing, is right communication. This is what Ric Thompson’s Small Business CEO Magazine’s talk with Sam Horn focused on – Empowered Communication.
Sam Horn, with six books and 20 years of award-winning communication/creativity consultancy for international clients under her belt, discussed a few tips that she also featured in two of her books, Pop! and Tongue Fu! This top-rated speaker and in-demand consultant shared how we could empower our communication and use it to improve our businesses and relationships.
Elevate Your Style
At first meetings, we’re often asked, “What do you do?” For some professionals, this is so easy to answer. They either say they’re doctors, lawyers, accountants, consultants and the like. But for others with out-of-the-box, slightly unique or somewhat new careers, it’s very hard to convey what we do. I mean, it’s simple if the word marketing just covers it. But since there are different types of marketing out there – online marketing, event marketing, strategic marketing, web marketing, email marketing, affiliate marketing, etc. – it’s best to be more specific, yeah?
You don’t want people knitting their brows in confusion and forgetting all about you do you? Of course not! Sam Horn introduced the concept of the “elevator speech” or “elevator intro.” According to her, when we answer a question concerning what we do, we have to offer them something that they’ll be able to touch, feel, hear or taste. We should answer in such a way that will capture the other’s person’s senses.
Instead of rambling on about the technicalities of our job, that others might not necessarily care for, we could ask them a question so we could get FI or free information from them. We could then wrap our answer around that information. It would help relate what we do to what they’ve experienced or known before. They’ll understand what we’re about and most probably even want what we’re offering. Since we connected with them on a deeper level and our conversation led to something meaningful, there’s a bigger chance that they’ll remember us.
“Good manners are made of petty sacrifices.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is another concept that Sam Horn shares in her talk with Ric Thompson. According to her, the best way to deal with complaints is not to explain, but to take the A-train instead — agree, apologize and act. I totally agree! The best way to put out a fire is not to fan it nor add fuel to it, right?
During conflicts, it’s always easier to defend oneself isn’t it, especially if we’re certain it’s not our fault. It’s mostly an ego thing, I know. But there you go. It’s human nature. When threatened, our defense and fighting instincts take over. When we’re on the frontlines of service though – whether by email, phone or in person – it’s not exactly the smartest way to go.
So, what should we do? We should do as Sam Horn advices – bite our tongue and process our thoughts quickly in our heads. We have to learn to think on our feet and to agree that we didn’t deliver what was expected, apologize for the oversight and act on a solution that would appease the customer or whomever we’re talking to. This doesn’t only work in business mind you, but on every relationship we wish to keep.
Don’ worry though, even if you don’t get it right the first time, there’s such a thing as a “fresh start.” Even if we stumble during introductions and first meetings, we could always make up for them the next chance we get – whether it be a day, a week, a month or even a year after the incident. Now, doesn’t that make you breathe easier?
Keep It Short
“I try to leave out the parts people skip.” – Elmore Leonard, bestselling author of Get Shorty
“Instant gratification takes too long.” – Carrie Fisher, Princess Leah from the Star Wars movies
These are good points to launch the other good advice that Sam Horn shared in her talk with Ric Thompson. She said, “If we write an article that’s too long, if we speak for too long, if we give a report that’s too long, or if we have marketing copy that’s too long, we are taking ourselves out of the game.”
This, I believe, is true. If we really want to capture people’s attention and be remembered by them, then watching their eyes glaze over and boring their brains out are not exactly the smart routes to take. Trust me, and the experts, on this – keep it short.
As a litmus test, it’s always better to ask yourself if what you have to say is (1) interesting; (2) easily understandable; and (3) would add value to the person you’re speaking with, before you actually say anything. Even when you’re excited, try to not get ahead of yourself. Take the time to process your thoughts before uttering any words. Better yet, it helps to have a prepared intro or a concise and compelling bit when you go into any personal or professional gathering. It’s a little unnerving to think about at first, I know. But with practice, it’ll get easier.
Communication comes easy to everyone. Empowered communication, on the other hand, is a different matter all together. With the tips Sam Horn shared, we are actually given room to improve on our own communication skills. Keep in mind that in what we have to say, whether it’s about ourselves or our business, it always pays to keep it short, interesting, easily understood and remarkable. The best way to go viral, build networks and strengthen relationships is to get our messages across and have people relate to what we say.
In a way, these tips help us work on our own personal growth. By learning how to communicate well, we improve ourselves and our relationships with those around us. Don’t you think so too?
To access the recording of Ric Thompson’s talk with Sam Horn on Empowered Communication, click here.
If you have thoughts and other tips to share on how to improve communication skills, please type in your comments below.
Happy mingling people!