There’s a reason why can’t I get through certain blog posts, even though the topic seems interesting.
Effective communication is not synonymous with methods of communication. The art of communication is more than the ability to deliver content through a medium. Talking is not necessarily communication, writing is not necessarily communication. Powerpoint slides are not, by themselves, communication. It is about how we use the modes of communication that create effective communication.
Lots of people can talk, in fact, the majority of us can talk. But the majority of people are not good communicators and even less are good listeners. So fundamentally what we have is a planet full of talkers and it’s getting awfully loud. When it gets loud I listen to the person that is most interesting.
Here’s a few tips for those of you that wish to communicate in a manner that doesn’t leave the reader, listener or whatever, wanting to stab you or themselves.
To start with: think about your audience, put yourself in their shoes.
Keep it short
We’re past the MTV generation, it’s now the Twitter era. If you can’t grab my attention in the midst of the myriad of other distractions that clamor for my eyes, ears and mind, then you’ve lost. And this is not just me and my A.D.D, this is universal, there’s a lot going on out there.
And to be clear, I’m not talking about brief for the sake of being brief, I’m talking about communicating concisely. Don’t leave out crucial details just to finish the story, but don’t include all the minutia; we don’t need to hear about every thought you’ve ever had. This doesn’t mean you can’t write 1000 words, but choose them carefully.
Your story should have a point
No, seriously! I can’t tell you how many posts I get through and think “so what” or “why did I read that?” I can’t tell you how many stories I hear that end up with me thinking 3/4 of the way through “will this ever end” or “why is this person telling me this in the first place?”
Before you start, think about what you want the audience to get out of it. If you are talking, having a singular point or concept you want to communicate, if you are writing, try making an outline complete with headings to frame the purpose of each paragraph or two.
And while we’re on the subject…
There’s a reason I like video games more than TV, because I get to participate.
Do you know what 99% of people are thinking when they are listening to your story? They are thinking about how they can relate to it, what similar experiences they’ve had, and how they are going to respond. Don’t believe me? Go have a conversation and listen to the voice in your head. Remember what I said about there being a dearth of good listeners?
It’s not anyone’s fault, it’s the default state of our brains operate.
Most people spend a lot of time up in their heads, and listening to stories or reading are no exceptions. When reading a blog, I’m often thinking about points I agree or disagree with, and how I would respond. So rather than fight against that and frustrate your audience, take a breath while telling your story to let the other person interact.
It’s not about the details, it’s about the emotional connection
“…and then he said…and then she said…and then would you believe that he said…and I was like…” No one needs to know EVERYTHING that happened. You also don’t need to hammer home your point in a blog post by providing EVERY single possible argument.
If you want to be a good communicator you need to be concise. If you want to be a gifted communicator, you need to engage people by creating an emotional connection with what you are saying. You need to figure out how to shut off the voice in their head and get them hooked.
If you are speaking, make eye contact with your audience, ask them questions, get them thinking, but do it on your terms. If you are writing, go back through your posts or passages and remove anything extraneous and make the post visually appealing. Give people the ability to sound off in the comments and by all means interact with them if they are nice enough to talk back, even if they don’t agree with you. HECK, especially if they don’t agree with you!
To summarize: be concise, have a point and think of your reader/listener. Interaction is good and details are sometimes uneccessary.
Have a kick ass day and go tell your story.
The comments are yours.