I, like many communication professionals, get daily emails from Ragan.com with their latest articles. This particular one, 4 qualities of expert communicators, caught my eye a few days ago. It’s a short article, and seems to be content created to ultimately promote the Advanced Writing and Editing Workshop at Ragan, but the article itself got my wheels turning. Again… mostly because it was short and I found it a bit incomplete.
Yes. These are four qualities that communicators who consider themselves experts should have. But what are some others? There are probably at least a dozen, but I decided to give it some thought and write about some important qualities I think make for a great modern-day communicator.
They Ask Clients About Their Goals
When initiating a communication campaign, a good communicator asks the client, “What does success look like? What is the ideal result of the communication campaign?” How many times have you encountered an executive who wanted to communicate an accomplishment or milestone and it seemed like the goal was to brag? The job of a corporate communicator is not to brag, but to deliver a message that’s relevant and valuable to the audience.
Asking what success looks like makes your client really think about the goal – at the end of the communication campaign, what does (s)he want the employee or customer know, think, feel, and do? Once the picture of the ultimate result is clear, a more comprehensive communication plan can be written.
They Make a Comprehensive Plan
Speaking of which, it goes without saying that the communication plan should be a staple for us all. But the most effective plans are those for which each method of delivery is scrutinized. In other words, are each of the communication vehicles you have in your arsenal right for your campaign? Most of your clients want all the bells and whistles – news articles, email campaigns, videos, etc. – but that doesn’t mean they all make sense. Sometimes less is more, and if the client isn’t best served by a particular delivery method, a seasoned communicator steps in as the role of expert and explains why. You serve your client best when you are able to create a plan suited to their needs and ultimate goals, and that means using methods that will yield the greatest reach and engagement.
They Survey Regularly
Communicators who kick butt at their craft know that when their messages are delivered, that’s not the end of it. They assess on a regular basis to ensure that the communication and the methods used were effective. In addition to official surveys, an informal focus group can be effective in getting quick feedback about how a message is received.
For instance, when you deliver an important message from your CEO or a senior leader, there should be a group of colleagues in different departments who you contact soon afterward to gauge the reaction from employees in those areas. Is there buzz? Are employees talking about your communication or is it going largely ignored? This kind of instant feedback can let you know if follow-up is necessary, either for reinforcement or to answer questions that seem to arise.
They Strike a Balance Between Corporate and Plain Speak
Corporate messages can often sound just like that – corporate. Sometimes they can sound so plastic and manufactured so much so that the audience can feel that they’re being talked down to. Today’s successful corporate communicators understand that employees and customers want relatable content that sounds like it’s from the heart. Official company business or news doesn’t have to be casual. There’s a time and place to use very uniform language. But communicators today should be able to deliver more informal messages in a way that is more to the employees’ or customers’ speed.
There will always be the tried-and-true methods, but those who excel are those who light a candle in a dark room of traditional communications (too dramatic?). It’s beneficial to the communicator and the audience to find new, innovative ways to deliver the message. Videos, podcasts, and social media channels are examples of more modern ways of trying to engage audiences. If you’re not ready to go in whole hog into the world of podcasting, then just try one or two and see how they go. Don’t be afraid to suggest and try new, seemingly scary communication channels.
So that’s my two cents on qualities that make for an expert communicator in today’s corporate world. What do you think? Have I missed anything? Let me know your thoughts in the Comment section below.
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