Entrepreneurs, by nature, are better communicators than the rest of us. They ensure that communication is effective both within their business and with their stakeholders and customers.
Communication does not just happen it should be thought and thoroughly planned. Firstly, what is the purpose of your communication; what is this that you want to communicate? The leaders in every industry define their communication aims and what it is that they want to achieve. The industry leaders consider the listeners they are about to communicate with; what motivates them; what is their attitude; what is their existing knowledge; their expectations and what will be their reaction to the message?
We have all come across people who first say something and then engage their brains. That is a trait you will not see coming from an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs consider which method(s) of communications to use; whether it should be verbal, written, via an e-mail, Twitter, phone call, facebook, or any one among the list. A Generation Y demographic may want a Twitter message, whilst Generation X may prefer an e-mail and a Greying Tiger may require a typed or written memo as the most effective communications method.
The content of the message is also critically important. Consider what the key points are and how should they be arranged and in what priority.
Listening - a key skill
Communicators are listeners. It is often said that an entrepreneur will talk for about one- third of the time and listen for two- third of the time. While they are listening they are not interrupting, they are truly listening, picking up the key messages, evaluating and deciding on what the real message is that is being presented.
Entrepreneurs observe the talker and look for signals. Is this speaker responsive and friendly; smiling and relaxed, or are they unresponsive and aggressive; are they controlling and dominating; loud, pointing fingers and leaning forward or are they nervous and submissive, using nervous hand movements, hesitating and looking down.
An entrepreneur wants to know who they are talking to and what type of person they are dealing with.
Entrepreneurs ask key questions
If you want information, then the key is to ask the right questions. Questions can be split into three groups; open, closed and probing. The entrepreneur knows when and how to use each type of the question.
Open questions are used to obtain information and to encourage the other person to talk. They often start with How, When, Where, Why or Who, or statements such as “Can you tell me...”. Entrepreneurial salespeople will use open questions a lot during a conversation. Closed questions are used to obtain very specific information and can often result in one word answers, for example “How many items do you need?”, “Do you have a fork lift licence?” or “When can you deliver?”.
It is worth noting here, that we all know, as customers, when we have come across a non-entrepreneurial salesperson and alas, there are a lot of them. They start conversations with “Can I help you?” or “Are you alright there?” As a result, customers often close the conversation down and feel frustrated, whilst the salesperson thinks they have done their job.
Entrepreneurs use probing questions to explore a point in more depth or to check they understand what has already been discussed. Examples include, “What makes you say that?” or “What made you come to that conclusion?”
Prepare and communicate
Who wants to be an entrepreneur? Those individuals who are prepared to plan what they are going to communicate and then communicate. They define their aims in their mind, prepare their case and decide the best way of communicating before they start the communication process.
John Stanley is one of the top ten percent of speakers in the world today. He is an acclaimed retail consultant and Western Australian Entrepreneur of the Year 2009. John is author of several marketing, customer service and retail books including the best seller “Just About Everything a Retail Manager Needs to Know”, his company is Western Australian Small Business Champion 2009 - Education and Training. For more information on how John Stanley can help you please visit his website www.johnstanley.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org