History sits on the shoulders of, and the future calls out for, those leaders that master the fickle art of communication. Thus, communication should be a top priority when it comes to the skill development of any leader.

Expert communication can set an organisation free to excel towards wild success. However, very few leaders choose to reach this expert level of communication, instead settling for ‘good’. This is a shame when the difference between good and expert is slight.

"The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." – Mark Twain

I have lost count the number of times that I’ve listened to accomplished leaders communicate valuable information ineffectively. I can’t help but internally cringe every time they arrive at critical parts of the message and just slightly miss the mark. Although it’s usually only a small error to do with tone, pitch, pace or body language, the result can be the difference between success and failure.

Over the next few articles, I am going to share some examples of leaders, who have come so close to communication expertise, yet have fallen slightly short.

The world isn’t like you

The way you see, smell and just plain experience the world is unique to you. Expert communicators understand this and have the ability to bend and shape their messages to suit those that are on the receiving end.

We are all wired differently, for instance, some people like details, while others like broad concepts. The essential thing for an expert communicator, is to simply to be aware of this. In doing so, they can craft their customised message so that it hits home with great clarity and impact.

On an individual level, this ability to tailor a message, comes from knowing the people you are talking to. What are their personal circumstances? Do they like lots of details, or prefer being provided with the outcome only? Are they motivated by career development, or is their family more important? Once some of these things are known, the way you deliver your message can be moulded to suit them.

This process becomes easier when communicating with larger groups, as leaders can focus on the needs of a group as a whole. For example, if an organisation was going through a restructure, the leader would deliver a speech that:

  • Explains the stages of implementing the restructure, and the big picture view of how the company would operate once the restructure had been completed
  • Highlights the efficiencies the restructure would bring to the business through the use of stats and graphs, and investigating the positive impact it would have on teams
  • Directs people to where they can find more information and discuss the impact it might have on them.

Although this may seem simple in concept, effective communication is regularly neglected. This neglect can cause some real headaches.

Read more – The 2% factor of expert communication: Part 2