I’ve touched on this topic in previous posts but, based on the most recent post, I think it’s worth discussing again.
It’s clear there is a difference in the communication styles men and women adopt. Some of it arises from our natures and some from the way we are expected to behave in the world. In general, women are often nurturing and emotional while men prefer direct and logical communications.
What does this mean for women at the executive level? To put it clearly, it means women need to be more forthright in what they say. An executive is supposed to be informative, reliable, and authoritative. There is no room for the modifiers women use in the delivery of their messages: words like “but,” “just,” and “Sorry.” Those words soften the message and limit the impact while making women look unsure of themselves.
If you haven’t yet mastered the art of powerful communication, it’s time you did. Here are some techniques you can practice and incorporate into your delivery.
Master the pause.
When used strategically, the pause is one of the most powerful communication tools available to you.
- It makes you look like you’ve been listening to and thinking about the points the previous speaker has made. You look like a thinker who is going to be worth listening to.
- It gives you time to assemble your ideas and choose your words, so you don’t have to stumble through with “um” and “I think…” to dampen your message.
- It allows you to breathe and control your nerves before speaking.
- It lets you digest what you’ve just heard so you can formulate the right response.
Imagine this. You stand to speak. You are briefly silent as you scan the faces around the table. Then you start speaking. What a powerful way to command attention.
But here’s a warning… Don’t just sit or stand there and look at your notes or the table. That’s an open invitation for interruption. Use eye contact or at least nod your head a few times so people understand that you’re thinking, not blank.
Stop apologising and start thanking.
This tip needs you to change your mindset. How often do you apologise for yourself when there’s no need to or for something unimportant? “Sorry I’m late” or “Sorry but they ran out of your…” It’s good to apologise when you make a mistake but if you’re apologising for circumstances, you make yourself look less than you are. You completely lose the context of your message.
Stop saying sorry. Shift the focus from being negatively on you to being positive on the people you are with. Instead of saying something like, “Sorry to interrupt you” why not say, “Thank you for seeing me.” “Sorry for being late” becomes “Thanks for waiting.” People love to be appreciated and thanking them is a great way to start your communication off on the right foot. They’ll certainly pay more attention to what you say next. Saying thank you puts you in control.
Marshall your facts.
When you present your message, it should contain all the information people need to know so they can give you the answer or response you want. This is what should be done, here’s why and here’s how…
Know your facts so you can support your statements if you’re questioned. This is communication in a business context and at senior levels: be sure you can back up what you say.
Become aware of the weaknesses in your communications. Ask for feedback and advice from someone you trust. As your Executive Coach I will draw on years of experience in executive level communications and I’ll be honest with you. You can talk to me at any time about working with me to perfect and add power to your communications.