(Part 3 of a series by Bert Decker)
We live in a one-click world. Technology has shortened our expectations of time. Impatience reigns – sometimes that’s not so good, but it’s reality. The ability to deliver communications faster and better – now that’s good.
Paraphrasing a favorite client: “The better the communication of the leader—the more trust and believability—the faster you can influence. You speed up the organization by speed to change, speed to deliver cost savings, speed to delivering revenue and speed to delivering customer satisfaction. Everything gets improved when you improve communication.”
Or, as Lee Iacocca said, “I’ve always found that the speed of the boss is the speed of the team.” (If you’re too young to remember, Lee Iacocca was world-famous 40 years ago…)
So, how do we speed up our communications? (And it doesn’t mean talking fast.) Let’s take three areas out of the many we could write about:
1. Behavioral Impact
• Authenticity and trust are built on how people perceive you. Which is even more important today than 40 years ago. We live in an instant, urgent world and have so much less time to establish trust due to advances in technology. Energy, enthusiasm and confidence must show in your behavior. If you are a reader of our past blogs, this is second nature, here and here.
• Get to the point. With shorter attention spans, it’s even more important to get your bottom line up front. Know your audience, get to your Point of View, state the action they can take to gain benefits. You’ll save time, drive direction and influence faster. Here’s something that can help.
2. Mental Agility
• Today’s news and talk shows move quickly. The best guests are nimble. Same with hosts/guests/performers on YouTube. And video is everywhere, so expectations for all of us to be nimble are much higher today.
• Think on your feet. In today’s world, those who are slow to speak or respond are often at a disadvantage. Expectations are different, so you are better served to be quick on your feet—fast thinking and speaking.
• Linking thinking. In business and personal settings, when you have only a moment to get your POV across, you have to get to it fast. It’s a skill we call linking thinking, and you can learn it. Start with free association for practice, (simply linking one word and phrase to another, to another, to another – purely for exercise) and then move up to linking a random point to a relevant point. Taking an improv class can be very beneficial, and fun too.
3. Visual Speed
• People grasp visuals quickly – use them. We’ve all heard, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Even more relevant today. Insert pictures and visuals in your PowerPoints, to communicate your message faster and better.
• Stories are not only memorable, they create a picture. And they can quickly make your point. In today’s world, there is so much data to absorb, stories will speed up the process.
• Be SHARP. SHARPs (Stories, Humor, Analogies, References/Quotes, and Pictures) help make your points stronger and quicker. Don’t leave out SHARPs because you don’t have enough time – add SHARPS as they actually will save you time by making your point more rapidly.
One final point. Today’s speed of communication is particularly relevant in the sales world. I love Daniel Pink’s book “To Sell Is Human,” where he says we’re all selling to someone, some of the time. Now, if you’re in direct sales, you must systematically communicate more with customers and prospects in faster and simpler ways. But it really goes for everyone, with all our communicating.
Speed is today’s communication oxygen. Breathe deeply…