Effective communication – 2 words that can potentially be very fuzzy when put together. The first step, then, would naturally be to break it down.
Let’s visit Susan meeting Jake with a miserable look on her face.
Jake – What happened? Are you okay?
Susan – Gosh! Everything in life seems to be going wrong..
Jake’s reaction could be one of the following –
1) ‘Oh, let’s sit down and talk about it’
2) ‘Susan, I have exactly 7 minutes before I go for my jog. Please be concise, frame an agenda to begin with and stick to it.’
We are always told to focus on being efficient(cue ‘be more efficient in managing time/tasks’). However, while being efficient may work well with tasks and machines, there is a need to be effective when it comes to homo sapiens i.e. do what it takes to make sure points get across.
How do we get effective? What would effective communication entail?
I feel effective communication is about getting your point across in a way that the receiver remembers it for life. And to make that happen, I’m going to draw inspiration from Dan and Chip Heath who co-authored ‘Made to Stick‘. Based on their research, the way to make something stick is –
Let’s look at a few great examples of words/phrases that have ‘stickiness’ –
‘A bird in hand is worth two in the bush’ – Traveled all the way from times before Christ.
Or let’s examine John F Kennedy’s famous statement that inspired America to work ceaseless to send a man on the moon. His call was to –
‘Put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.’
It is interesting to observe how these statements are simple, unexpected, concrete(easy to imagine bird in the hand or a man on the moon), credible(more so in the case of JFK), bring out emotions and yet, are stories in miniature.
The big lesson here would be to think through what we are planning to present in our next presentation and test if it meets the ‘SUCCES’ criteria.
And here’s to trying to use ‘SUCCES’ to become communicate effectively then. All the best to me!