Chapter 2: Delivering Your Message
14 Improving Verbal Communication
In this chapter you have reviewed examples and stories that highlight the importance of verbal and written communication. To end the chapter, consider how language can be used to enlighten or deceive; encourage or discourage; empower or destroy. By defining the terms you use and choosing precise words, you will maximize your audience’s understanding of your message. In addition, it is important to consider the audience, control your tone, check for understanding, and focus on results. Recognizing the power of verbal communication is the first step to understanding its role and impact on the communication process.
|Define Your Terms||Be aware of any words you are using that may be unfamiliar to your audience. When you identify an unfamiliar word, your first decision is whether to use it or to substitute a more common, easily understood word.|
|Choose Precise Words||To increase understanding, choose precise words that provide the most accurate picture for your audience.|
|Consider Your Audience||Contextual clues are important to guide your audience as they read.|
|Control Tone||What kind of tone is best for your intended audience?|
|Check for Understanding||In oral communication, feedback is a core component of the communication model as we can often see it, hear it, and it takes less effort to assess it.|
|Be Results Oriented||It can be a challenge to balance the need for attention to detail with the need to arrive at the end product|
Even when you are careful to craft your message clearly and concisely, not everyone will understand every word you say or write. As an effective business communicator, you know it is your responsibility to give your audience every advantage in understanding your meaning. Precise words, clear definitions, and contextual clues are important to guide your audience as they read. If you are speaking to a general audience and choose to use a word in professional jargon that may be understood by many—but not all—of the people in your audience, follow it by a common reference that clearly relates its essential meaning. With this positive strategy you will be able to forge relationships with audience members from diverse backgrounds.
Getting a handle on how to influence tone and to make your voice match your intentions takes time and skill. Make time for feedback and plan for it. Ask clarifying questions. Share your presentation with more than one person, and choose people that have similar characteristics to your anticipated audience. Lastly, finding balance while engaging in an activity that requires a high level of attention to detail can be challenge for any business communicator, but it is helpful to keep the end in mind.
The following two examples will provide you with ideas for increasing the precision of communication.
Original – Bob left work.
Revised – Bob left work to go home at 5 pm.
Original – Colleen presented a proposal.
Revised – Colleen, the marketing manager, presented a proposal on the marketing budget for next year.
To summarize, in order to improve communication, define your terms, choose precise words, consider your audience, control your tone, check for understanding, and aim for results.