Anyone can communicate, but if you want to be understood, and your communications to have the desired effect, you need to heed certain principles. Think of these principles -- known as the 7 Cs -- as your signposts to remind you where you want to go and steer you in the right direction.
Effective communicators adhere to "who, what, when, where and why" as they formulate their communications. If your speech or other informative communications piece answers these questions, you are on your way to complete communication. Both you and your audience benefit from this completeness -- in business communications, you can save money by not having to repeat what you need to communicate. Your audience has all of the information necessary to make the desired and supposedly beneficial decision; and, you and your company's reputation is strengthened.
Briefer is better. You do not want your message to get lost in flowery words that crowd out your message. You can emphasize important points, but do not repeat yourself nor say the same thing over and over using different words. Word choice is important to achieve conciseness.
A good communicator knows his audience and has gained insight into how the world looks to them. Look at your message through their filters and their predispositions, and appeal to their belief systems. Use "you" instead of "I" -- you need to invest in the audience and be empathetic.
Do not allow your message to be cloaked in ambiguity. If you are tempted to use words that sound or read awkwardly, do not use them; go with the familiar that roll off your tongue easily. Do not try to speak "up a level" as though it will make you more important; you may come across as pompous and your message will be lost. Be efficient in your sentence and paragraph construction.
Use very specific words. You should also refer to data and relevant research. Paint a picture for the audience so they can use visualization to help them retain the information, and use action words instead of the more passive language that is all too often associated with business communication.
It should go without saying that you need to communicate with courtesy and respect. Use caution with humor; if there is any question whatsoever about its appropriateness, remove it. Convey sincerity. If you have done your audience research, you can relate experiences that are meaningful to them, invoking positive, good feelings. This helps to demonstrate your thoughtfulness.
While you want to be grammatically correct, do not allow that correctness to come across as aloof. You can write and speak correctly while still maintaining a conversational and likable style. Verify your information and have someone with knowledge of the subject matter also check any factual information in your communication.
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