The 5 Inviolable Rules for Effective Business Communications

Last Updated Jul 12, 2011 5:12 PM EDT

Most business communication -- presentations, memos, and even conversations -- is a boring waste of time. This post contains five inviolable rules for being an effective business communicator. Follow them, and you'll be welcome wherever you go. Ignore them and you'll be one of the faceless crowd:
  • RULE #1: Be memorable. Customers treat most business communications as it they were white noise in the background. If you're going to stand out from the crowd, you need to do something that's going to stick in the mind, long after you've stopped speaking.
  • RULE #2: Be clear. If you don't understand the audience, you can't create a message that will persuade anybody. You've got to know exactly what you want to communicate and what about that communication is important to the audience.
  • RULE #3: Be brief. Presentations should be short and sweet. Give the audience enough information and opinion so that they know where you stand. Be prepared to go deeper if there's a drill down or a request for other kinds of information.
  • RULE #4: Be focused. If you try to deliver a comprehensive presentation that covers every possible detail, you'll only blow through your audience's attention span. Think of business presentation not a venue to discuss details, but a venue to provide a coherent summary.
  • RULE #5: Be committed. If you think of yourself as simply an objective conveyor of information, the audience will perceive you as just another source of SPAM. Express an opinion and have a stake in the outcome. Demonstrate your value by being able to debate the issues.
NOTE: The above is based on a conversation with Dean Brenner, president and founder or The Latimer Group, an executive coaching and training firm.

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