Ask any person with a major in communications and they’ll proudly tell you that everything is communication. It might be more than just their bias speaking. Learning more about how to communicate effectively would help most people in their everyday lives. But for entrepreneurs, communication skills are business-critical.
When you’re looking for funding, negotiating with suppliers, or trying to be a leader people can look up to, communication skills will play a major role in your success. If you don’t have the right skills, you’ll have a tough time selling yourself as a serious and talented entrepreneur. It will not matter if you really are. You’ll also have a tough time running a business and setting up a workplace culture that fosters good communication if you can’t communicate well.
Here are four key communication skills you should focus on, for starters:
Conciseness and Clarity.
CEOs, entrepreneurs, and other successful people are a wellspring of useful ideas and practices. Take Infor’s CEO, Charles Phillips, for example. He puts a lot of stock in communication. His company uses instant messaging so that everyone can be in touch. But in this Charles Phillips’ interview, we also learn that he likes to have 5-minute face-to-face meetings.
If you want to be able to convey messages quickly and efficiently, you don’t necessarily need to learn to talk quickly. But you do need to learn how to get to the point quickly. The fewer words you use to express the idea and the sharper you make your language, the better. Learning to express yourself clearly will also help your conciseness. It will also make it less likely that people will misunderstand what you’re trying to say.
And speaking of having 5-minute meetings — you won’t be able to pull those off if you don’t know how to listen. Some people don’t differentiate the ability to hear from listening. These are two different things. Hearing is a passive ability. Listening shouldn’t be passive. It should be active.
The deal with passive listening is that you have to maintain complete concentration on what is being said. You want to be sure that you fully understand everything This is something that should be reflected in your answers. Active listening also involves being able to remember the conversation after it’s finished.
Active listening has several benefits besides the obvious ones. Active listeners are often perceived as being more empathetic and interested in what people have to say, for example. That will help you foster a healthier communication culture in your business, and it will make you a better leader.
Every day in 2017, there were around 269 billion of emails sent around the world. By 2021, it’s expected that the number will be close to 320 billion. While you won’t be in charge of writing all of them, you’ll surely do your part in helping the number of emails grow year after year.
Knowing how to be concise and express yourself clearly will be very helpful when writing emails. It might be even more helpful with instant messaging, another very popular form of written communication. But it might not suffice. Writing emails has its own set of best practices you need to know. You should also master other forms of writing you are likely to use. Getting familiar with the inverted pyramid can be very helpful, as well. You don’t need to learn every form of writing used in business, however. Some tasks, like writing white papers, are always best left to professional writers.
Body Language Understanding and Control.
You probably heard the rule that body language accounts for 93% of all interpersonal communication. The commonly quoted statistic isn’t actually a rule, and it’s not even quoted correctly. It comes from two studies that found that 93% of communication is non-verbal, and that body language amounts to 55% of all communication.
Nevertheless, body language is extremely important in everyday communication, and it’s one of the most important skills you can have as an entrepreneur. People will judge you before you utter a single word based on your appearance, posture, and hundreds of other signals that are processed unconsciously. You need to learn to recognize these signals. Then, you need to learn to control those that can be consciously controlled. Your goal is to learn to radiate confidence.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to meet a lot of people on your way to launching a new business. Not all of those meetings will be pleasant, and some will end unfavorably for you. However, learning to communicate well will give you a better chance of getting what you want out of every situation. And when your business idea lifts off, your communication skills will help it stay in flight longer.