Communication is one of the top ranked personal skills across all industries, the demand for effective communication among professionals has become bigger than ever due to virtual teams, diverse cultures, and dissimilar expectations just to name a few, I have tried to sum up everything about communication in this brief article that is based on an old Chinese adage.
“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”
Communication has always been named biggest business problem/issue/challenge and you will find dozens of articles and books teaching effective communication principles and emphasizing on how good communication has become an indispensable skill for businesses as well as professionals.
With the rising number of communication channels ranging from conventional media channels to the social networks plethora, it is extremely important to identify and plan which message fits which communication medium, and this information should be readily available in the corporate or project communication plan, you can learn how to build a communication management plan for your project at my article Communication Management Mindmap.
I have been looking for one rule, principle, or approach that can summarize everything about effective and successful communication until I came across this Chinese proverb that, in my opinion, summed it up all.
There is no doubt that “telling” people – that’s a form of verbal communication – is a common communication method which might be formal involving a meeting and a bunch of PowerPoint slides, or it might be informal involving a phone conversation or a water cooler chat, the challenge remains in getting people to remember what you have communicated to them verbally given the massive number of things that we all need to remember.
When it comes to “showing”, the likelihood that your audience will remember what you have shown them is much higher than in the case of telling, given the fact that we are visually driven creatures and our minds tend to remember visible information more than audible information, nevertheless, with the constantly increasing number of meetings being called and massive number of PowerPoint slides thrown in meetings, it is very expected that people will not remember the message you are trying to get communicated for a long time or even to pay a decent level of attention that can keep you going.
In contrast to telling and showing, you need to consider involving people in your communication, or in other words, engaging people in your communication whether it is remote or face to face communication, I believe that the key to successful communication is Engagement, you need to get people’s attention and make them interested in the message you are trying to get communicated, engagement requires you to first believe in your message, if you don’t have enough confidence in what you are trying to communicate, don’t expect other people to buy your message, here are a couple of tips that can help you engage with your audience:
“Tell ‘em what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell ‘em what you said.”
- Face to Face Communication: If you are a public speaker, it is so important to make a first impression and get your audience attention right after you start your speech, the old public speaking golden rule “Tell ‘em what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell ‘em what you said.” can always help giving a first good impression, and you might also start your speech by little humour that can get people’s minds and hearts. If you are in an interactive meeting and you feel that attendees are not interacting enough, you may ask few open ended questions in order to get them engaged.
- Written Communication: if you are going to communicate a written message that might cause an argument, it is crucial to speak with your recipients prior to sending your message, get their feedback, and do the required changes prior to sending the message; this is how you can induce their engagement and getting them to realize that their views count. When you send your message, avoid using mind-boggling terms, don’t use acronyms that your recipients may not be familiar with, and try making your message well-honed.
In order for engagement to work well, you need to make sure that your audience do share common goals and objectives with you and have clear understanding of the ultimate objective of the communication process. I believe that Involvement or Engagement is the antidote for most of communication issues being faced in business world on daily basis, if you have got any other potential antidotes, please feel free to share them in comments section below.