Effective communication can be the deciding factor in acting that job interview or convincing investors to hop aboard your new company. Although communicating ideas effectively sounds like simple common sense, many of us continue to make basic mistakes that could cost us opportunities. In this post you will learn the most important techniques to become a better communicator.

If you’re giving a presentation, the last thing you want to see is the audience disengaged. To prevent this from happening, you should understand the most common mistakes people make when trying to communicate with their audience.

• The first mistake is to place too much importance on the content and information of your presentation.
• The second mistake is to exhibit a lack of authenticity, which causes distrust and disconnect in the audience.
• The third mistake is to be unprepared. Presentations aren’t the only thing for which you can prepare. Staff meetings, business lunches and office pop-ins can all be planned out in advance. In fact, you can prepare for any situation where you anticipate a chance to communicate so that your words can inspire and influence.
• The fourth mistake is to lack self-awareness. Don’t forget that the way we see ourselves doesn’t always match up with what others see. You can be all too familiar with the way you speak and believe it to be perfectly normal, while your audience will think you’re speaking way too fast.
• The fifth mistake is adhering to the status quo. Don’t get too used to your comfort zone and forget to challenge yourself from time to time. If you hope to grow and become a better communicator, you’ll need to take some chances.

Communication in the age of shortened attention spans.
At any given moment, people are connected to the Internet, social media and their mobile phones. This on-the-go society has greatly impacted our ability to complete a very simple task: pay attention. It’s no secret: we’re living in the digital age. In today’s culture, there are more things fighting for our attention than ever before. Everywhere we go, we are bombarded by advertisements, messages, images, videos and agendas that are all fighting for the valuable commodity of your sole attention. How are we responding? We’re fighting back. Our attention span is at all all-time low, making it more challenging than ever to be communicated to. We don’t want to be marketed to or manipulated by another company or organisation that has its own agenda. We want something real. Something personal. Something authentic.

Create a road map for your communications.
So often, communicators are forced down the path of delivering tactics, rather than strategic value. The key to charting a different course is to develop a practical communications road map that helps you create high impact plans that deliver measurable results. Building a communications roadmap involves a multitude of components that all need to work together in order to execute it successfully. For business owners building out their long-term strategy, this means having a thorough understanding of what problems your business solves and how you are communicating those values to your customer base. In addition to gauging the needs of your audience, you’ll also want to write out some specific, measurable goals that will determine whether or not you’re following the roadmap and staying on track.

Connect with your audience using visuals.
Storytelling can take on many forms. A blog post, a social media announcement, a website, an email blast, a presentation or a book. Whether your purpose is to inform, educate or entertain, adding visual content is core to how you can connect with your audience. People respond more to what they see than any other form of stimulation.

The importance of tone of voice.
A tone of voice is an expression of a company’s values and way of thinking, and it’s not to be considered lightly. Just how the tone of your partner’s voice when speaking can instigate hurt feelings, or even an argument, the wrong tone of voice in your content can also put off potential customers. Tone a voice gives you the opportunity to advertise your best self. If the kinds of customers you want to attract are businessmen and women, your tone might be authoritative and professional, but if you’re targeting teenagers, then it should be more light-hearted and quirky. When customers identify a tone of voice, they’re also identifying a personality. They start to form an image of a person or company based on the tone of voice you present. By doing this, customers feel like they’re getting to know the brand or company, bringing with it a sense of trust and familiarity.

Engage your audience through the power of storytelling.
Using storytelling to sell a product, brand or service isn’t in any way a new concept. The developing technology around us however, has given us new ways in which to engage and interact with our audience. Content marketing has become increasingly important as brands realize that in order to speak to their customers they need to invest in content that matters. The more brands have begun to focus on quality content, the more it becomes clear that storytelling is a key component to the content marketing process. People engage with good content, on both an informative and an emotional level. Crafting a story from your content is a fantastic way of drawing people in and getting them emotionally invested.

Analogies, references and pictures make your content more engaging.
Analogies are a way to anchor an unfamiliar concept to something that is more easily understood, which makes it extremely useful if you’re dealing with a complex subject. Using references and quotes is another simple yet effective way to get an audience engaged with what you’re trying to say. Pictures and visuals are a perfect tool for adding some pizzazz to your content.

Identify your audience’s wants, needs and desires.
The real secret to understanding your ideal customer is research.
Research is invaluable when planning your business, writing a blog post, creating products for your business, or communicating with prospects and customers. In fact, almost every aspect of your business will benefit by taking the time to understand the wants, needs, and desires of your ideal customer. Understanding your customers will allow you to connect with them on many different levels emotionally, relate to them, and provide better help and support. Once you understand your customer’s motivations, their wants, needs, and desires, along with their struggles and challenges, then it will allow you to create better products and solutions to help them.

Use the Decker Grid to structure your messages.
The Decker Grid is essentially a template that helps you to organise and identify all your main points and themes. The grid consists of 20 boxes arranged in four columns and five rows. Each box can be filled out to briefly describe the parts of your presentation, while the top and bottom rows are for your intro and ending.

Practice humility in your business communications.
One of the greatest qualities that you can develop as a leader, or as a team member, or as a consultant, or as a friend, or as a spouse, or …, well you get my point – is humility. Humble people are those who actually have great inner strength. They are so secure and confident in their own abilities and worth that they don’t need constant approval or limelight. Below are four strategies to practice humility in your business communications:

• Try being more interested in the other person than you are in yourself.
• Admit you don’t know everything.
• Let the other person shine, be the star.
• Look for ways that you can be of service to others.

In conclusion…
Building an emotional connection with your audience is critical to inspiring action. Conveying authenticity and warmth through your behaviours and your voice, as well as adding emotional triggers to your content, will foster this connection. Using the Decker Grid to develop a well-structured, unscripted message will facilitate the delivery of an effective communication.