Communicating can be downright difficult sometimes. However, if you’re an entrepreneur, then there’s no way around it — you need to become a good communicator, whether you want to or not.
To find out how, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council about the qualities that excellent communicators have and how entrepreneurs can boost their own skills.
Skills to Master
1. Listening to Listen
Listen without thinking about a response: Just truly listen to listen. It is so hard to quiet the internal dialogue in our heads when listening to someone else. I often find myself half listening and half thinking about my response to what they are saying. That robs of me of really hearing the other person. In order to get better at this, I am mindful of the need for it and practice it. — Ginger Jones, Jones Therapy Services
2. Direct Communication
Communication must be direct. You have a voice. You have a personality. And you know what you want, even if you’re hesitant to state it. You may have interesting opinions that are out of the mainstream. Don’t be afraid to make yourself clear. Start with your inner circle and start making your way out until you can speak with anyone with confidence in yourself. — Codie Sanchez, Codie Ventures LLC
An expert communicator consistently delivers their clear communication rather than being on-off about how they deliver it. That way the recipient knows they will get the answers or information they need regularly rather than wonder what day or time they will get what type of communication or lack thereof. — Serenity Gibbons, NAACP
4. Asking Questions
Expert communicators know how to ask questions. By picking out one thing from another person’s commentary and asking a follow-up question — “tell me more about,” “what was it like to,” “how did you get started in” — three things happen: One, the conversation keeps flowing; two, the other person opens up; and three, the other person walks away feeling like it was a great conversation. — Lindsey Groepper, BLASTmedia
5. Detail-Oriented Communication
An expert communicator takes in everything that a person says (and often doesn’t verbalize) before providing an answer, ensuring that they have responded and addressed everything that is in the correspondence or verbal message from the other person. Entrepreneurs are often rushing to get more done and don’t stop and pay attention to others, so it will need to be a conscious slowdown. — Angela Ruth, Calendar
6. Timely Follow-Up
A timely follow-up is one of the most important tools for expert communicators. Every meaningful conversation should have some type of subsequent communication, whether it’s a thank you email or a detailed response with action steps. Treating the actual conversation as just one of the many steps in our communication process reminds us to follow-up and be more proactive. — Nanxi Liu, Enplug
They speak like they write, and they write like people often sing. The best communicators are able to vary their cadence and intonation on the fly during their speech. They take a large complicated array of skills and combine them all at once to effectively and charmingly communicate a story. It’s not easy to do these things, but I would say practicing some theater couldn’t hurt to improve it. — Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
8. Positive Reinforcement
Communicators love to get straight to the point, and they usually don’t like to discuss anything in between. If you start with positive reinforcement, you will yield better results than just going straight to the point or looking at how many mistakes one person has made. This doesn’t usually produce positive results. As a leader, you see everyone eye-to-eye and no one is below you. — Sweta Patel, Startup Growth Mode
9. A Commitment to Learning More
There’s no one step you can take to automatically communicate well to every audience everywhere. Communication is a skill you keep practicing and learning about your entire life. Without a commitment to both maintaining and improving my skills, I wouldn’t understand the emojis some audiences rely on, nor would I be able to use gender-neutral pronouns in a way that respects my friends’ identities. — Thursday Bram, The Responsible Communication Style Guide
10. Develop Understanding
An expert communicator transfers information in a way that enables the audience to understand the message. Communication involves verbal and non-verbal cues, as well as visual tools. Seek to understand what was received and understood by your audience by asking for, and then listening to, their feedback. You then have the opportunity to clarify or refine your message so in the end, both parties benefit! — Jessica Gibson, Ariel Precision Medicine
One of the most important qualities that expert communicators have is intuition. Those with sharp intuition skills can anticipate what the other party is thinking and may say, and therefore can respond correctly and get the information they need. One way to develop this skill is to pay attention and listen to what others say to get the entire story. — Kristin Kimberly Marquet, FemFounder
12. Add Value
Expert communicators know that the key to success, both in business and life, is being able to add value to any situation. Business deals get made because both parties see that the other is bringing something valuable to the table. Knowing how you can help and add value is essential for any entrepreneur. Listening is one thing, but listening for where you can add value is everything. — Kim Kaupe, The Superfan Company
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.