Joanna Marie, Negosentro | When you’re running a small business, there are many different skills and knowledge sets you want to have, including things like sales and marketing, leadership, finance, accounting, computing, graphic design, administration and more. Yet, one of the most important strengths for entrepreneurs is communication.
In your business, you will need to communicate with a wide variety of different people, in many different ways. For example, you’ll have to convince potential partners, investors or lenders of the merits of your venture, and then you’ll have to win over customers, suppliers and potential employees and generate interest from journalists, and so on. Read on for some key communication skills business owners need to have and some ways you can develop them today.
Written communication is always going to be key when you’re running a venture. You must be able to clearly get across your wishes, opinions, information or worries in writing like emails, texts, blog posts, letters, reports, social media posts and more. Everything you write should be professional and easy to understand, and it should generate the kind of results you’re after, such as piquing interest from readers, conveying a message, etc.
However, if you’re someone who has never been great at spelling or using correct grammar, don’t worry too much – these days there are all sorts of tools you can use to improve yourself and to check over your work before it gets published.
For example, if English isn’t your first language, this makes communication tricky in an English-speaking country. To elevate yourself, consider hiring someone who is qualified in teaching the language. It pays to search for tutors who have completed TESOL Master’s programs online. Alternatively, take some English literature or specific communication classes to boost your skills.
Keep in mind, too, that thanks to technology you can use spell-check on Word and other programs or utilize grammar-based tools such as the Hemmingway app to edit your work. Plus, if you have team members working for you, you can get them to read over important documents and other communiques with fresh eyes before anything is sent out.
Being Able to Read Body Language
Next, since so many of your business interactions will be face-to-face, you also need to be able to read body language effectively. A huge percentage of all communication is actually non-verbal, after all, communicated and perceived via eye contact, the way people walk, move their hands and otherwise move about (or don’t, as the case may be) when in conversation with others.
Mastering body language, both how to use it yourself and how to read others’, will enable you to better get across your meaning when you’re speaking with a business contact or a group of people, and it will make it easier to command attention and to persuade others. There are lots of different books, blogs, courses and other trainings to help you get better at reading and communicating body language.
One simple tip you can start to use today, though, is to always look people in the eye when you exchange greetings and chat. This shows them you are paying attention and are confident and open. In addition, avoid fidgeting, folding your arms, putting your hands on your hips or in your pockets or slumping. These don’t convey interest; instead, they may make it seem that you’re bored, blasé, angry, annoyed or simply not listening.
Lastly, you will undoubtedly need to learn to present yourself and your ideas to others. Entrepreneurs often have to stand up in front of a group to present proposals, information, results, suggestions and other details to internal and external stakeholders. For example, you may have to make presentations to investors, lenders, customers, employees, a board, journalists or even peers at conferences and other events.
To ensure your presentations have the right impact, practice speaking in front of others, and learn how to get your message across effectively without too many umms and ahhs. It definitely takes practice to communicate with confidence, clarity, poise and conciseness, so the sooner you start working on this, the better.
If you’re struggling, even after completing multiple presentations, it might be time to hire a speaking coach, or to attend Toastmasters events. As well, learn how to use presentation tools such as PowerPoint, since adding visual aids can really help convey ideas better. Props or samples may also be handy to have on hand.