Posted by: Korry | February 9, 2012

The Top 5 Effective Communication Techniques

This week I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the importance of effective communication. You may have the best product or idea, but if you can’t communicate why it’s so great then you will never get traction.

The good news is that no one is born an amazingly effective communicator. The skills are learned and refined over years and years. That means that you can start working today to become one.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer what I view as the Top Five Effective Communication Techniques.

1. Know Your PURPOSE

How many times have you heard me talk about starting with the end in mind? We need a destination before we can make a flight plan and we need a goal before we can determine the steps to achieve the goal.

PURPOSE is the same for communication. It answers the question: what am I hoping to achieve? PURPOSE drives every decision you will make about communication; therefore, it must be incredibly FOCUSED!

Your audience (whether that’s one person or several thousand) will be confused if you fail at this crucial step. They will wonder “Where are they going with this?”, a question that indicates you are already several steps behind where you could be.

If you take nothing else from this piece, remember PURPOSE. It will guide everything else.

2. Know Your AUDIENCE

Now that you’ve given a lot of thought to your purpose, it’s time to think about your audience. With whom are you communicating? One person? Ten people? Ten thousand people? What do you think THEY are hoping to get out of this communication? How do THEIR goals mesh with your purpose? If you don’t know, have you asked them?

Too often, we start by asking “what do I want.” When it comes to effective communication, it doesn’t matter what you want! It matters only what your audience wants. If you don’t think about their needs, then regardless of your purpose or your goals, your message will simply be information, not communication. You won’t be able to craft your communication so that it resonates with them or drives them to take action.

3. Know Your SELF

Now that you’ve determined a specific purpose and given consideration to your audience, you need to think about yourself. Only, in this case, I’m not suggesting you think about your goals–that was your purpose–I’m suggesting you think about your tactics.

To be an effective communicator, you must play to your strengths. For instance, do you prefer verbal or written communication? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Does that preference depend on whether it’s one person you’re trying to reach or a group?

Sometimes you have a choice, but sometimes you have to get outside of your comfort zone and into your learning zone whether you want to or not. Either way, be honest with yourself about your skills and abilities. Videotape yourself to watch your body language and mannerisms. Do you have a tick that could be distracting to your audience? Do you use good eye contact? Do you exhibit excitement and positivity?

4. Know Your MESSAGE

When it comes to your actual message, I believe you must follow four rules: Be HONEST, Be FOCUSED, Be TIMELY and Be POSITIVE!

I can’t stand liars. I believe most people are really good truth detectors. Being honest with your audience means not exaggerating, giving credit where credit is due, and having the courage to say “I don’t know” when you don’t know. If you have to lie in your message, it’s better not to say anything at all.

Please, please, PLEASE be FOCUSED in your message, too. Get to the point quickly because time is of the essence. Email may be the worst offender here. Don’t you just hate opening an email and seeing several long paragraphs of text that could have been reduced to just a few incredibly brief sentences? The same email etiquette techniques (such as these I found on Twitter thanks to a link posted by @russeltarr) work for one-on-one communication, too.

And lastly, make the communication TIMELY and POSITIVE!! We’re all busy so don’t waste our time (or even give us reason to perceive the communication as a waste of time) and we don’t want to be brought down so keep our spirits up with positivity! Sure, it’s spin…but it’s worth it.

5. Know Your APPROACH

So you determined a PURPOSE, thought about your AUDIENCE and your SELF, and crafted an honest, focused, timely and positive message. The last step in the process is to determine your APPROACH.

Email, Facebook, Twitter, simple letters and other forms of communication are great for both formal and informal settings, but know that anything in writing will NEVER go away. Especially with social media, we must always follow the first four rules, even when making an on-the-spot post. Once you put something in writing, it can follow you for years and years, so be careful.

Of course, the personal touch is always a plus. But if you fail to follow steps 1-4, you run a high risk of communicating poorly or rambling. The advantage, of course, is that energy is contagious. In person, you can quickly gauge your audience’s body language. You can ask questions and have a dialogue. In short, it can be a very powerful medium to use.

Wow, Korry, this sounds like a lot of work!

That’s because effective communication IS a lot of work! There’s a reason why so many people communicate poorly and that’s because they either don’t think it matters or they’re just too lazy to put in the effort.

Let me assure you: they’re wrong. Effective communication is VITAL to success today!

The great part is that you CAN learn and improve your skills. So take a piece of paper and write the five steps on it or make a note in your smartphone. Sure, this is just the start. I’ll be going deeper into detail on each of these five steps as time goes on. For now, I encourage you to review the rules. Think about them. Put them to practice. And then come back here and let me know your results!

How’s that sound to you?

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  1. […] As I mentioned yesterday, winning cultures start with an emphasis on communication. They consistently use The Top 5 Effective Communication Techniques. […]

  2. […] is more central to building a winning culture than honesty. It’s the heart of effective communication, and the sign of a good leader. Share this:EmailPrintMoreDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  3. […] is more central to building a winning culture than honesty. It’s the heart of effective communication, and the sign of a good […]

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