One of world’s greatest communicators once said that “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
Mark Twain was dispensing advice about the value of preparation long before TED Talks, PowerPoint presentations, employee town hall meetings, customer video conferences, and social media – yet, his comments are still key to being an effective business communicator. In fact, it can be the key to a successful career, according to global communications coach Richard McKeown.
“Being able to communicate in front of a group or in writing is one of the professional skills that get business leaders through the second half of their careers as much as their technical skills advanced them in the first half,” explained McKeown on the BBB National Program’s >Better Series Podcast.
Like Twain, McKeown advises that preparation is just as important as knowing your subject. “The best business communicators are those who, quite frankly, work at it. They commit to being better and being effective. They recognize that one of their primary responsibilities as a leader is to engage people.”
McKeown recommends three areas where current and aspiring business leaders need to improve:
- Don’t “talk to yourself” by assuming the audience knows as much as you do
- Don’t share too much information and too little context
- Do think about how you will share the information to ensure it’s received
Many business leaders complain about having to repeat the same information or messages and prefer to “wing it.” Some prefer a script for comfort. McKeown says both approaches often result in poor communication or miscommunication.
“You may be saying and hearing the same thing over and over again, but the audience is probably hearing your thoughts for the first time,” reminds McKeown. “
That’s one of the secrets that the great communicators use: they don’t change their information very often, but they change their audience almost every time.”
McKeown also talks about how to use social media, presentations, and other communication channels to move people to action. To hear the full episode of the >Better Series with Richard McKeown, visit the BBB National Program’s Podcast website or listen on iTunes or your favorite streaming platform.