We were recently joined by award-winning speaker Steve Bustin, an experienced business communications specialist. Steve works with organisations and individuals around the globe who want to engage effectively with their customers, staff and the wider world. The insight below shares Steve’s three top tips for communication – whether that be spoken communication or written.
1. Are you encoding what you say?
You are! We all encode what we are saying.
You will naturally be thinking about the choice of words you use, the tone of voice, the language, the jargon and the abbreviations. Encoding is saying things in a way that is right for you but that may be misunderstood by your audience. On the other hand, as an audience we are decoding. Your mood and your sense of humour can make a difference within your communication. Likewise, if a recipient is having a bad day, they may even decode in a different way to how you intend it to be shared. When communicating, try to think about encoding and decoding and be aware that we are always doing it.
2. Aim for short sentences
Whether it be spoken communication or written communication – aim for short sentences. Short sentences are easy for people to understand. They are easy for people to read, to listen to and absorb. Whereas sometimes your sentences become long and discursive and have lots of clauses and subclauses, lots of punctuation, commas, semi-colons and often lead into unrelated sentences without you even taking a second to break. Those sentences are hard to listen to and hard to read. Aim for a full stop. Almost speak in bullet points. It will give you a punchier style and it is a style that is much easier for people to absorb and to act upon.
3. Lose the jargon
Long words don’t make you sound clever. A lot of us will naturally slip into ‘The Apprentice’ speak – the kind of words and phrases the candidates on The Apprentice come out with because they think that is how business people speak. Aim for everyday, clear language. Clearly within your organisation you will all have certain phrases and terms which to you are not jargon, but be aware that when used externally it is going to be jargon. Examine your comms really carefully: your website, every email you send, every conversation you have and any presentations you give. Make sure you strip out all the jargon – acronyms, abbreviation, slang – get rid of them.