We live in an age dominated by technology that helps streamline our lives. We can use those same attributes to succeed in business by mirroring the style of communication we value in computers which is efficient, direct and concise. Listen to any successful CEO or entrepreneur talk about their business to someone else in their industry, and you can immediately hear this style in practice. They get straight to the point, eliminating clumsy and imprecise language that simulates the way computers speak to one another. We can call that "machine language." So, let’s look at five techniques to improve your communication style.
1. Get clear on what you want to say.
All too often, people just start talking when they want to communicate. They beat around the bush and ramble on, hoping the listener will be able to assemble their thoughts for them. Then there are those who speak because they like to hear themselves speak. Instead, you should hone in on precisely what you want to convey before you start speaking.
Ask yourself what it is you really want to say. It needs to be well-defined. If you are brainstorming ideas rather than presenting concrete points, then invite the listener to explore that arena with you as a dialogue instead of an ambiguous monologue. Otherwise, you force the listener to stop everything and wait for you to get to the point.
2. Don’t manhandle the listener’s mind.
It’s more respectful to be quiet and give yourself some time to formulate coherent thoughts than it is to drag your audience through a bunch of mumbo-jumbo or obvious points. At least while you are quietly organizing your thoughts, you can give their mind a little space.
When speaking "machine language," business people relate major concepts with a short sentence. They can tell if the listener gets the whole picture or not. It’s interesting to note that many CEOs don’t read books. They'll have an assistant read the book and explain it to them in a few sentences. The CEO fills in the gaps. All he needs is the "machine language" version.
3. Monitor the listener.
You have to pay attention to your audience. They very naturally and spontaneously are giving you signs as to whether or not you are speaking clearly and concisely enough, or whether you need to slow down and give them some more details. Respond accordingly. A very experienced business person will catch on more quickly and need less information than most people.
4. Be aware of your tone.
While there is immense value in being concise, you can do so in an open and friendly tone. Make sure that your brevity is not signaling an entirely different message to the listener, such as being too busy or distracted to talk. There is a way to be direct and concise without seeming dismissive or uncommunicative. How would a computer get its point across to another computer? It would not do so with an attitude or sharp tone.
5. Cultivate the art.
CEOs seek out business people whom they can work with efficiently. They "download" huge volumes of information to one another in a few short sentences. It’s actually a very gratifying experience to communicate so seamlessly. It makes business fun.
Being able to speak "machine language" is an art you can cultivate over time. The first step is to pay attention to how you speak. Then see how your communication is being absorbed. What changes could you make in order for your communication to be better received? When communication is good, both parties should feel uplifted by the conversation. After all, communication means communion.