In a recent Inc. article, “[Warren] Buffett admits that he was once terrified of one form of communication any person in a leadership role will have to master – public speaking. That all changed after he took a public speaking course at Dale Carnegie, which, he said, changed his life.”
Even one of the world’s most powerful and successful leaders had to take to the classroom to strengthen this crucial skill: effective communication.
Communication may sound like one of the easier aspects of a leadership position, but quite the contrary can be true. If leaders are ineffective in their communication, they are less influential and less successful. Buffet went on to say that “communication skills are the one thing that separates successful people from everyone else.”
So, how do you know if you practice effective communication? There are plenty of online quizzes to take, including the “Are you a good workplace communicator?” quiz by HealthDay and The Muse’s “17 Questions Good Communicators Can Answer Easily.” But Buffet and all good leaders know that practice and ongoing education is what leads to effective communication.
Here are the 5 most sought-after effective communication skills in a leader, along with resources to help you develop them:
1. Pitch and Pace
Do you find that you talk really fast, or that your voice crackles, while addressing a crowd? Talking at the ‘right’ speed, volume and tone is sometimes more important than the actual message itself.
In Talk Like Ted: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds, Carmine Gallo suggests “speaking with emotion and passion; telling compelling, relevant stories; having a conversation with the audience; teaching something new; inserting show-stopping elements; using situational and personal humor; and, delivering information in short 10-minute segments punctuated by soft breaks—stories, pictures, videos” to capture the attention of your audience, reads Steve Gladis’ review.
Another resource to consider is Leadership Communication courses, designed to “evaluate and sharpen business writing and speaking skills and to show how language can be used as a tool to identify issues, solve problems and communicate policy.”
In order to collaborate and persuade effectively – two of the 5 most in-demand soft skills in 2019 – you have to be a good listener. Few have mastered the art of expressing themselves through great communication, but even fewer have mastered the art of listening. Active listening means asking open-ended questions, repeating points back after someone has made them, and staying quiet while they talk.
3. Eye Contact
Maintaining the right amount of eye contact is critical to having effective communication. It indicates sincerity, focus and it also helps convey emotion. Bottom-line: The eyes say a lot.
The Power of Eye Contact by Michael Ellsberg is the “concise guide to harnessing the potent force of eye contact.”
Dr. Ivan Misner, author of Masters of Networking, had this to say about the book and about the general power of eye contact: “Effective business networking depends on effective eye contact.”
In today’s hyperconnected world, effective communication means sharing the right information to the right people at the right time. A tip from The Muse: “If you can’t boil your message down in a sentence, chances are, it’s not clear.”
In Principle of Relevance: The Essential Strategy to Navigate Through the Information Age, Stefania Lucchetti “aims to help develop the reader’s awareness of the thinking mechanisms involved in information processing,” because “competitive edge is no longer based on availability of information, but rather on the ability to navigate through a flood of high-speed data.”
Global Executive MBA courses, like Global Management Communication and Global Marketing Management, help graduates formulate the right message to be shared across the most effective platforms at the right time and to the right audience. The relevance of a business’s message is critical to its overall strategy, delivery and success.
Executive MBA Program – Saint Mary’s College of California
Designed for busy professionals, our two top-rated Executive MBA programs – a traditional Executive MBA and a Global Executive MBA – offer a flexible part-time schedule and an innovative hybrid format.
5. Body Language
Bad body language can send the wrong message to any crowd. Slouching, leaning back in a chair and fidgeting can all indicate disinterest, boredom and a lack of confidence. Effective communicators make full use of good body language to help project and enhance their message.
The Silent Language of Leaders is a guide for using body language to lead more effectively. Carol Kinsey Goman explains that “personal space, physical gestures, posture, facial expressions, and eye contact communicate louder than words and, thus, can be used strategically to help leaders manage, motivate, lead global teams, and communicate clearly in the digital age.”