5 Ways to Have Better Conversations
In business, it is important to have strong communication skills. Whether you’re communicating internally or externally with clients or industry peers, having clear and valuable conversations are key: it can help you strengthen your relationships with internal team members and clients / customers; and position yourself as a knowledgeable expert.
But what exactly differentiates a good conversation from a mediocre one? Here are 5 ways to improve your communication skills:
1. Make Your Point Clear and Brief
People engage in a conversation to gather information. Whatever the topic, it’s important to make your points clearly and succinctly. That old saying “think before you speak” applies here: take a moment to collect your thoughts before you respond and only say what needs to be said. When you ramble, people may not fully gather the point you are trying to make. Also, not every detail needs to be included to make your answer clear to someone. Most of the time, brevity is better than over explaining.
This is a major point we always stress with our PR clients during media trainings. In interviews with reporters, it’s important to communicate clearly and make your point immediately. If you fall victim to rambling, you risk going off topic, being misquoted or being poorly positioned in the article. And in live interviews, it compromises your credibility as an expert and leader in your field. The same is true in business conversations — brevity and clarity are key!
2. Speak with Confidence
Whether you are presenting at a conference, speaking up in a team meeting or discussing strategy with your client, having confidence is key. You know your stuff, so that knowledge should be reflected in your delivery. Speaking with confidence inspires trust and credibility. Make sure you’ve researched the topic you are discussing (and in many cases, the person you’re discussing it with) so that you can speak confidently. Trust us, knowledge is power!
3. Ask Questions
People like to know you are engaged in the conversation and care about what they think. A really simple way to show that is to ask questions. Try asking open-ended questions to show that you are listening, you are interested in what they’re saying and you want to know more. By doing this, you are encouraging your conversation partner to open up more and share more details — which could lead into other topics of conversation and help you build a stronger relationship.
This is a great lesson to apply to customer relationships. Customers / clients don’t want to be preached at. They want to have a two-way dialogue with businesses that they patron, and they want to make sure you know and understand them — especially in this new digital age. Use social media, HTML email marketing and other mediums to engage your customers, ask them what they want and fulfill their needs.
4. Go in Open Minded and Leave Learning Something
There are always opportunities to learn something new — and that’s how you should approach every conversation. So the next time you interact with someone, whether it be an industry expert or a junior employee, approach them as if they know something you don’t. This will make them feel valued and who knows, you may actually learn something that you can apply to your business!
Which leads us to the final, and probably most important, point…
5. Listen and Be Present
A conversation is one person talking and the others listening. Sounds simple, right? Turns out, listening is more complicated than people think. Just because you are nodding your head and smiling doesn’t mean you are fully listening.
When it is your turn to listen in a conversation, make sure you are present in that moment. Try to clear your mind and actively listen to what is being said. Actively listening helps you retain information better, which you can use to further build your relationship with them.
Want to hear more? Start a conversation with us!