As marketers, communicating effectively is vital to so many of the things we do. From emails to blog posts to client meetings, everyone seems to think they have the essentials of good communication down.
That may be true. But to make sure you’re expressing yourself clearly and effectively, here are 10 principles of good communication.
1. Have A Goal
First, you need to determine what you want your audience to do or get out of your communication. Are you positioning yourself as a thought leader or are you persuading them to take action? Figuring out your ideal outcome at the start and intentionally crafting your communication to reach for that goal will make it much more effective. Decide which KPIs can best demonstrate that your goals have been met, whether it’s clicks, social shares, sign ups or purchases.
Good communication is never one way. It’s why no one likes being stuck with uncle Preston at the family BBQ because he’ll breathlessly tell you, again, in excruciating detail, how he fixed his lawnmower that one time. Without giving you a chance to say a word, that will launch him into another story about the types of birds he’s seen in his yard this summer. And it goes on and on.
Likewise, if you never listen to what your audience is saying or give them a chance to engage, you’ll struggle to effectively connect with them. So, do your research, read what they’re writing, ask for their feedback and incorporate what they’re looking for into what you’re trying to communicate.
3. Adjust To Your Medium
Context about where and how your communication is being consumed is a vital factor to consider. For example, you wouldn’t say certain things through written communication because the tone and inflection of the spoken word isn’t there. In the same vein, you would communicate differently on the phone than face-to-face because the other person can’t see your face, hand gestures or body language.
Therefore, once you decide the most appealing format to reach your audience, make sure your content and messaging is tailored for that medium. If it’s for Twitter, you’ll want something that’s short, visually appealing and will maybe start a conversation. But if it’s a blog post, you’ll want to go into more detail on a mobile-optimized, easy-to-read page.
4. Stay Organized
When starting out, create a cohesive, high-level outline that includes your goal, your main point(s) to get across and the main ways you’re going to illustrate them for your audience. Stay focused on this plan, be methodic in your research and avoid scope creep.
5. Be Persuasive
This is the whole reason you’re communicating, so do it well! Different people are persuaded differently. So, if appropriate, appeal to their rational side with relevant facts to back up your main argument. But, perhaps more importantly in many instances, you should also appeal to your audience’s emotional side. Studies have shown that our emotional brain processes information five times faster than the logical side of our brain. So, use images and stories that elicit happiness, hope, humor or surprise to get you closer to your communication goal.
6. Be Clear
Begone jargon! Farewell wordiness! Adios spelling mistakes! Keep your writing clear and concise. Moreover, explicitly state what you’re arguing, keep it as short as possible, avoiding long words when a short one will do and generally keep your sentences below 30 words. Usually, this just requires going through a few rounds of editing to take out all that’s unnecessary.
7. Visuals Are Important
When communicating with an audience, variety can go a long way. Humans comprehend new information in a number of ways but many are primarily visual people. In fact, you can comprehend visual data in as little as 13 milliseconds! Accordingly, you can more effectively connect with your audience by using compelling visuals to draw in your audience and explain your point in addition to just text. Visuals can also help you appeal to your audience’s emotional side.
8. Use Stories
Another way to connect with your audience and communicate your ideas is with relevant illustrative stories. People are natural story tellers and listeners. This inborn trait stretches across cultures and, for me, is especially evident with how kids are so quickly drawn to story books.
Stories are great ways to make ideas more tangible to people and can also humanize what you’re communicating. Appealing to your audience’s more emotional side, stories are also more likely to be remembered than the other elements of what you communicate. So, if you really want people to understand and remember your point, add in a story that illustrates it.
9. Less Is More
Your audience is likely busy. So don’t waste your (or their) time with irrelevant tidbits, repeated information or details that may be related but don’t help you with your main communication goal. It will lead to disengagement, less information being retained and take away from the effectiveness of your efforts. When in doubt, err on the side of clarity.
10. Be Curious
Finally, resolve to always be learning. While some things remain the same, the how and what we communicate is constantly evolving. Read lots, talk to mentors and never assume you know everything when it comes to good communication. For your individual efforts, test different formats and styles to see what works best when connecting with your unique audience and always be open to feedback.
Good Communication is Effective Communication
Communication is the cornerstone of our profession. To be effective at it – whether selling a product, trying to convince a group to act or getting your team aligned – these communication principles should help focus your thoughts into something both powerful and useful.
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