By: Michael Kaiser
Despite the plethora of business communication software, hardware, social media, LinkedIn, etc., sources that literally increase by the minute, don’t we loose the face-to-face ability to communicate with our business and social interlocutors? Effective, successful communicating in the business world is part and parcel of Roger Fisher and William Ury’s classical “Getting to Yes. Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In”, first published in 1981. The book is not only very readable but it has, like all classics, survived the passage of time. The following are examples of some sub-titles:
- Negotiators are people first
- Every negotiator has two kinds of interests: in the substance and in the relationship
- The relationship tends to become entangled with the problem
- Separate the relationship from the substance; deal directly with the people problem
Therefore, to negotiate agreement, you need communication skills.
And how do you deal with people in general, or more specifically, with a potential business one? We could say that thanks to webinars, teleconferences or e-mail, we do not need to sit in front of them and shake hands. That may prepare the ground for a good relationship between the parties, but let’s assume that inevitably there will be a need for a face-to-face meeting or presentation. Your interlocutor may come through well in a video conversation, but is he/she the same in a personal meeting? Chances are that you will either detect something that you like or quite the opposite; do you feel comfortable? How about face-to-face contact? Is it pleasant and business like, or aggressive and arrogant? The bottom line is the proverbial “chemistry” factor between the parties.
In the business world, the success of presentations to small, medium or large audiences be that via PowerPoint, videos or speech, has one single objective: effectively communicating your needs as well understanding their needs, explained by Fisher and Ury as follows:
“Understanding their point of view is not the same as agreeing with it. It is true that a better understanding of their thinking may lead you to revise your own views about the merits of a situation. But that is not a cost of understanding their point of view, it is a benefit “
In other words, for presentation and/or communication skills to be effective, do not just talk, but listen as well.
Presentations, communications, what’s the difference?
Presentations are tactics, communications embody strategies. When it comes to presentations, from personal social and business experience, as well as the advice of seasoned experts and/or observing them in action, the following parameters served as useful guidelines:
First and foremost: Who is the audience? Executive? Middle Management? Sales? Engineering? Customer Service? For a presentation to be successful, it must be fine-tuned to the audience. A good presentation should include seven guideposts for success:
- To inform
- Pertinent anecdotes and examples
- Be constructive and positive
- Generate action
- Communicate in clear, professional language (even if you have an accent)
- Rehearse the delivery of the message
- Study, and react to, your audience’s body language (and what a challenge it is…)
The successful presentation requires:
- Not talking down to the audience, but seeking to be understood
- Message should be worthy of the audience’s attention
- Get feedback from the audience
Communications are part of the Advertising universe. And Advertising is one of the four P’s of marketing: Product, Price, Promotion and Place, all of them strategies.
Communications are a vital component of crisis management and change, such as M & A’s, product recall, emergencies. And for crisis management to be effective, you need training.
Building employee, customer and brand loyalty is one of the most immediate challenges facing global corporations. The impact of demographic diversity and outsourcing on the “loyalty” concept.
Communications is about transmitting ideas and solutions to individuals or groups. To be effective, communications must convey:
- Trust and Confidence
- Accurate information
Both business and social communications share the desire to connect, one for commercial purposes, the other for friendship or cultural interests. Apparently one of the best communicators was the former United States Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger. His accented, baritone voice may have been one reason, but surprisingly it was the slow, quasi-Thespian tone of his delivery that forced listeners to pay attention.
As far as specific business communications are concerned, it is clear that for all the welcome information technology available to us, the art of successful communications requires a unique set of individual qualities that can be translated and applied for the implementation of strategic objectives.
Suggested reading sources
- “Getting to Yes. Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In”. Roger Fisher and William Ury,
- Building the Bridge from Communications to Business | Forbes (Although clearly promotional, a useful interview about communications)
- Communication | Wikipedia (If you want a thorough description, this is it! Notice the good graphics)
- Those Crucial First Four Minutes | hodu.com (A very good description of the first Four Minutes)
- Tips for Successful Business Communication | Business Mantra (Scroll down until you reach the content; surprisingly, author is not listed, but nevertheless good content and communications advise)
- Business Communication in the Corporate World | Business Mantra