Forget tips or tricks. The most important shift to become a better communicator is in the way you think about communication.
For example: imagine that a team sets out to pitch a solution for a vexing business problem to their boss. They construct a solid presentation, succinctly outlining their idea and why it is the best solution, using every common tactic for constructing a clean message. But when it comes time to put it forward, their idea fails. Why? Because they didn’t ask the fundamental question first— Does my audience see the problem the way I do?
Too often, we approach communication linearly – “if I say x, y, and z, I’ll get what I want.”
But communication is multidimensional. Your audience might hear something different than your x,y, and z if they are coping with budget pressures, have other priorities that demand their attention, or have had a recent risk not pay off. They may not think the problem is a problem at all.
Instead of focusing on saying things the right way, think about saying the right things. Ask the fundamental questions: what is the problem, and will my audience understand the problem the same way? How do I make sure that we start from the same place, so that my argument resonates with them? And how do I make sure that my solution fits with what my audience needs?
It’s a mindset shift that can take practice and time. But it is the most important step you can take to become a better, more effective, more successful communicator.