How to Optimize Your Communication Skills in Business?

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Peter Shallard
CEO | Commit Action |

Using a fork to eat soup. 

That describes the clumsy way most entrepreneurs attack leveling up their communication skills.

They latch onto vague aspirations like "get better at presenting" or "improve written skills" without ever defining why they want to improve their skills or what concrete business outcomes better communication will achieve.

But mastering communication requires you to start with "why" first - the specific goals and metrics you intend to impact.

For example, a sales professional shouldn't just generally seek to "improve pitches." A more targeted goal would be:

"Improve explanation of product benefits to increase trial sign-ups by 15%."

See the difference? 

When you start with clear objectives, you know exactly how to focus your efforts for maximum impact.

In this comprehensive guide, you'll learn why finely-honed communication skills are an essential entrepreneurial superpower, the common pitfalls to avoid, and practical techniques to transform your communication.

communication skills in business.webpWhy are Communication Skills Critical for Entrepreneurs?

Skilled entrepreneurs don't just communicate - they strategically wield communication as a Swiss Army knife to accomplish big goals.

Let's see real examples of how expert entrepreneurs use their communication skills as a launchpad to fuel their growth:

  • Developing team members' critical thinking and alignment through clear expectations, proactive training, and constructive feedback. This helps them grow while reducing unnecessary escalations.

  • Building customer rapport and loyalty by making clients feel truly valued and deeply understood, thereby fostering retention and referrals, and maximizing lifetime value.

  • Improving sales close rates by deeply understanding prospect motivations, crafting highly compelling offers, persuasively conveying value, and skillfully responding to concerns. 

  • Growing their network by building meaningful relationships with mentors, partners, investors, and influencers.

  • Recruiting top talent by authentically conveying their vision, values, and purpose. 

  • Fundraising by crafting persuasive pitches, confidently handling objections, and conveying ambitious visions to secure capital from investors.

  • Partnership building by articulating win-win value propositions with clarity and confidence.

  • PR and brand building by learning to powerfully engage audiences and tailor messaging across media events and platforms. 

  • Product marketing by crafting compelling explanations and narratives that resonate with target customer needs and desires.

Now you see why rockstar entrepreneurs and visionaries obsess over perfecting their strategic communication.

They know incredible communication is like spinach to Popeye or a Green Lantern’s ring: it gives them superpowers!

With communication mastery, you have the power to persuade, inspire action, build loyal teams, and accomplish your biggest entrepreneurial goals.

Read also: Not sure what to outsource and what not to? Check out our article on how to outsource your weakness.

Common Communication Pitfalls Undermining Entrepreneurs

communication skills for business.webpCommunication mishaps are like banana peels waiting to trip up entrepreneurs. Here are some common slip-ups you must dodge:

  • Not tailoring pitches to different investors: Using a one-size-fits-all communication style with all investors rather than tailoring your message for each can ruin your chances.

  • Presenting without narrative arc: Rambling through presentations with no storytelling and clear takeaways bores audiences and wastes opportunities.

  • Neglecting nonverbal cues: Pitching with poor eye contact, closed posture, and lack of energy undercuts your message and creates doubt.

  • Avoiding difficult conversations: Delaying sensitive chats with co-founders over equity splits or employees about performance issues breeds resentment and hurts productivity.

  • Over-relying on digital communication: Emailing directives without further training or retaining the human touch erodes workplace culture and loyalty.

  • Speaking off-the-cuff without practice: Fumbling through big presentations without preparation looks amateurish, risks fanning flames, and fails to inspire.

  • Disorganized communication: Jumping randomly between topics in investor documents or speeches without clear structure is confusing and tedious.

Avoiding these common mishaps is crucial if you want to leverage communication as an entrepreneurial force and accomplish ambitious goals.

How to Improve Your Communication Skills in Business?

In the jungle of business, fierce communication skills determine who feasts and who starves. Learn these communication techniques and watch your influence multiply exponentially:

1. Master Active Listening

Have you ever talked to someone who's got one ear on you and one eye on their phone? We've all experienced that disconnect. 

The solution is active listening.

Active listening not only demonstrates respect but also builds trust. 

It tells the person what they have to share is important. So give people your full, undivided attention.

Some skills you must practice here include:

  • Maintain eye contact. 

  • Don't interrupt. 

  • Ask thoughtful follow-up questions to understand deeply. 

  • Paraphrase what you heard to show you're connecting. 

  • Recap conversations to cement mutual understanding.

When you focus completely on someone without judging, you make them feel truly heard and valued. Like a highly attuned instrument, detect the unspoken notes and tune your response accordingly.

Apply it, and watch your connections strengthen. People will go out of their way for someone who makes them feel respected through skillful listening.

Read also: Not just in business, learn how to improve your communication skills for leadership.

2. Bring Intentionality into Conversations

business communication skills.webpBefore crucial conversations, get clear on the purpose like a master archer aligning their shot.

Ask yourself: ‘What's the bullseye here? How will I know if this dialogue is on target?’

Defining your desired outcomes upfront brings intentionality so your conversations accomplish their purpose.

A messy back-and-forth dialogue without clarity is like showing up to a swordfight armed with a pool noodle. Don't be that person!

Also, have candid communication and the courage to openly discuss concerns without fear.

Speaking plainly avoids misunderstandings down the line. Like ripping off a bandaid, it may feel uncomfortable initially but solves bigger headaches.

3. Structure Persuasive Communication

Inspirational speakers first connect with hearts before heads, like Martin Luther King painting a dream before outlining policy details. 

So don't just cough up cold facts and orders without context!

Use Commit Action's distinction of the order framework to structure communication to your audience:

For example, imagine you want employees to follow a new company-wide recycling initiative.

  • Explain WHY your idea matters: Explain how recycling aligns with your organization's broader sustainability vision and values first. Get their hearts nodding.

  • Provide background on WHAT you're recommending - the specifics of changes, requirements, resources available, etc. on the recycling initiative. Now they're primed to grasp details.

  • Close with HOW to execute your plan: Share logistical details and tactical steps for adopting this new habit and program. People support solutions only after connecting with rationale.

Think of it like exciting the audience before the big reveal, not just blurting everything out at once. 

4. Make Complex Concepts Simple

how to improve communication skills in business.webpHave you ever felt lost trying to decode complex technical jargon or dense professional language?

Likewise, don't let your message get lost in translation - simplify the complex concepts using metaphors, analogies, and engaging examples.

Turn obscure concepts into totally graspable ideas your audience gets immediately.

For example, compare complex machine learning algorithms to intuitive systems people use every day, like Netflix's recommendation engine or Facebook's news feed ranker.

Explain artificial intelligence algorithms as advanced chess players - they evaluate millions of possible moves to determine the best next step.

Craft comparisons to everyday experiences to make foreign ideas familiar and paint the picture using vivid imagery.

In other words, hook people in with easy-to-digest stories rather than a running commentary of wonky facts and specs.

5. Master Written Communication  

Want to craft words that captivate hearts like poetry yet inform minds like the best non-fiction?

Study the masters - famous authors, bloggers, and colleagues you admire.

Deconstruct their work by transcribing it word-for-word to absorb their style into your brain and fingers.

Like a musician playing the greats, you'll notice certain rhythms and patterns.

"Whoa, Seth Godin's sentences are super crisp and scannable!"

"Interesting how Malcolm Gladwell weaves in stories between facts. Keeps me hooked!"

You'll recognize how they structure paragraphs, sequence arguments, and employ metaphors. Great writing won't seem elusive anymore - you'll start feeling their cadence.

Then over time, like a master pianist improvising their melodies, synthesize these teachings into your voice.

Don't just copy - emulate, then innovate. 

Study how influencers in your niche communicate too. What sets their writing apart? Reverse engineer why it resonates then make it your own.

Read also: Are you reading too many business books but not implementing them? We reveal the only true way entrepreneurs learn business success via books.

6. Optimize Interpersonal Communication

why communication skills are important in business.webpYou can't build thriving relationships on small talk about the weather. Nurture authentic connections by getting people to open up.

As Dale Carnegie preached, be sincerely interested in others. 

Skillfully whet their appetite to talk about their favorite subject - themselves!

Ask thoughtful questions about their interests, for example, "What first sparked your passion for coding?" 

Then share a related experience from your own life, like "I took an HTML class in middle school that got me hooked on programming too!"

Watch them light up sharing their origin story as you uncover common ground. Now they feel heard and understood.

Gradually, vulnerability and candor will blossom into meaningful relationships on a foundation of mutual understanding.

But don't just pepper them with questions like it's an interrogation. Share just enough to signal you relate without hijacking the conversation.

The key is encouraging them to share while ensuring they still feel comfortable. Savvy communicators nurture authentic connections with care and interest.

7. Give Constructive Feedback  

Giving constructive feedback is vital but sensitive. Criticism can inspire growth or inflict wounds if not carefully delivered.

First, frame feedback through a growth mindset lens - as stretching skills rather than attacking the person. Help them feel hopeful about improvement.

Then, balance constructive criticism with authentic praise so the ratio stays positive. Specificity gives insights while vague attacks hurt morale.

Finally, focus on behaviors rather than character. 

For example, "Meeting deadlines has been inconsistent, which impacts the team" rather than "you clearly don't care about this job."

Thoughtful delivery unwraps feedback as a gift supporting professional development rather than condemnation. With practice, you’ll motivate improvement without casualties.

8. Communicate Cross-Culturally

the importance of communication skills in business.webpDon’t be like a bull in a china shop - a communication style effective in one culture may shatter relationships in another!

Subtle nuances like appropriate greetings, formality, and nonverbal cues vary wildly across cultures.

For example, the directness and honesty prized in countries like Germany and Israel may be seen as rude in cultures that value tactful communication like Japan or Brazil.

Strict adherence to promptness in Switzerland differs greatly from looser concepts of time in India and Mexico.

So adapt your dial tone when working cross-culturally! Build rapport through culturally aware body language, terms of respect, conversational style, and more.

Ask colleagues for insider tips to shape your communication and avoid inadvertently offending people. A little cross-cultural fluency goes a long way toward smooth collaboration.

With sensitivity to nuances, you can build strong relationships with people from diverse backgrounds. 

9. Foster Open Communication

Let’s get real - most work cultures enable politically correct chatter but punish truth-telling. Employees bottle up concerns out of fear.

That ends now! 

Foster candid communication by first establishing psychological safety, so people feel secure speaking up.

Celebrate courageous truth-tellers rather than shaming dissenters. Make it safe to voice opinions without judgment.

Ask thoughtful open-ended questions and actively listen without interrupting - don’t just wait for your turn to talk.

Consider anonymous feedback channels like suggestion boxes so introverts share safely too or establish regular touchpoints where all team members take turns sharing thoughts without repercussions.

At Pixar, leaders encourage openly admitting mistakes and reflecting on what went wrong to extract learnings. This builds trust.

When you reward transparency and meet people with empathy, you gain immensely valuable insights and nimbly resolve issues early before they escalate.

10. Read the Room and Adapt 

What are communication skills in business.webpYou can't stick to a script like a robotic telemarketer when the room's energy shifts. Great communicators artfully ride the wave instead of ignorantly wiping it out!

Tune into nonverbal cues to sense how your audience is truly reacting - are they engaged or checking their watches? Nodding along or looking puzzled?

Pick up on facial expressions, body language, and energy levels. Then adapt your message dynamically based on what's resonating rather than rigidly sticking to a predetermined script.

It's like a stand-up comic seamlessly adjusting their set based on crowd reactions - flexing their material to maximize punchlines that slay with extra emphasis and skipping bits that are bombing.

Sometimes you need to amp up enthusiasm to get low-energy audiences nodding. Other times you should pause for clarity when you've lost people.

In short, all the preparation in the world won't help if you deliver tone-deaf communication that ignores the real-time room dynamics. 

Take Your Communication to the Next Level

Killer communication skills make you bulletproof - able to penetrate barriers, win allies, influence outcomes, and accomplish the incredible.

While poor communication creates obstacles, strategic communication clears your path to success.

But knowledge without action won't get you far.

Now it’s time to put these tips into practice daily and watch your influence grow exponentially.

However, making tangible progress on your own can be challenging without structure and accountability.

That's where Commit Action comes in. 

Our coaching methodology, developed with researchers from Harvard and NYU, provides accountability and expert guidance to help professionals like you achieve communication mastery.

With Commit Action, you get:

  • A dedicated coach for 1-on-1 sessions tailored to your goals

  • Measurable targets tied to business outcomes

  • Consistent feedback to build skills quickly

  • Ongoing support via text/email to keep you on track

In essence, we’ll hold you accountable and track your progress with your communication goals, accelerating your entrepreneurial success.

If you're ready to explore your true potential, sign up with Commit Action today. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How can I become more aware of my nonverbal communication and body language?

Observe yourself in meetings and when presenting to get feedback on improving nonverbal communication.

2. What active listening techniques work well in virtual meetings or remote work?

For virtual communication, use active listening tactics like focused attention, taking notes, recapping what you heard, and using nonverbal cues to show engagement.

3. How can I sharpen my written communication skills for professional emails?

Analyze and emulate the style of colleagues and authors you admire by transcribing their written work word-for-word. Absorbing compelling writing approaches strengthens your own skills.

4. How can I get better at communicating data and numbers clearly?

Use storytelling to make statistics relatable, data visualizations for impact, analogies to simplify the complex, and emphasize actionable insights.

5. What tips help strengthen communication skills for introverted professionals?

Strengthen communication skills by focusing closely on the audience's body language instead of your internal thoughts. This shift to focusing more on understanding and responding to listeners helps introverts become less self-conscious during conversations.

6. How can I tactfully say no to communications that aren't a priority?

Politely decline low-priority asks while thanking the person for considering you. Also, suggest alternatives like referring them to someone better suited.

7. How can I tailor my communication style for different generations?

Research the communication preferences of each generation like Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials, and adapt your style accordingly - from formal with elders to text-friendly with younger staff.

8. What are the keys to adapting communication across cultural barriers?

Study communication norms in different cultures including greetings, formality, decision-making styles, conflict approaches, and non-verbal differences.

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