KNOW YOUR GOALS
Know what it is you’re trying to accomplish at work and be sure of what you want to say. There is literally nothing worse in this world than someone rambling on in a meeting or by the water cooler. It’s also the fastest way to discredit yourself. If you need to, write down the things you want to say so you’re clear on them. Do this often and it will become a habit, and you can eventually ditch the notes.
THE MAGIC IS IN THE C-WORDS
Focus on the C’s: Communicating Clearly, Concisely and Confidently. Communicate clearly, know exactly what you are trying to convey and have a communication “goal”. Be direct and short — learn to edit so you can establish your point quickly without the extra fluff. And finally, be confident. This does not mean be arrogant or stubborn – this means be confident in what you are communicating, understand there may be push back or questions and be prepared to address them clearly and concisely. If you don’t feel confident about what you are saying the majority of the battle is already lost.
APPLY A TEMPLATE
It sounds crazy, but putting what you want to say into a template helps. For example, over in our part of town, we use a template called SARs. Situation. Action. Result. So, whatever you want to say is put into that template. i.e., what was the situation (what happened, what was the task, what was the problem…you get it)? What action did you take to address it? And finally, what was the result due to your actions (how did it affect the situation)? The goal is to learn how to say what you want in this three-tiered approach, and in doing so shifting your mentality to consistently speak about your results and impact. If you can do this, you’ll have a far greater chance of displaying your contribution on a business to your peers and bosses.
VISUALS ARE EVERYTHING
Your body language says as much as (if not more) than the words coming out of your mouth. If you’re sulking in the corner in sweatpants you can believe not as many people will see your voice as authoritative and valid. (Unless you’re in the gym of course and then it’s a different story). If you don’t happen to work in a gym and are in a high-powered office instead, then dress the part. Dress to command attention and make sure your body language is always confident and authoritative. Learn to adapt to your crowd and don’t block yourself from others by crossing your arms or putting up barriers, another watch out is fidgeting (just stop that all together work or otherwise).
INSIST ON BEING HEARD
This is something we don’t always do, but if you’re talking and someone interrupts, stop them and tell them you have not finished talking. It lets others know that what you have to say is of value and you won’t be cut off. In business, people are forever talking over one another so it’s very easily done, and more often than not it’s not intentional or malicious. Just old habits die hard. But your voice is valid and making sure people aren’t talking over you will let them know that you mean business and you’re here to be heard. This is an art form – you don’t want to come off as a know it all or jerk, so practice if you must. You can just say a professional but clear, “let me finish and we will get to that” or an easy going “I wasn’t finished”, and proceeding works too. If you find this is a constant with a specific party – take them aside privately and address it. Part of being confident and communicating clearly is being persistent and professional in ensuring you get your point across.
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