In a recent Ivy Exec webinar, author and consultant Jill Schiefelbein shared tips on achieving clear and persuasive communication from her book, Dynamic Communication: 27 Strategies to Grow, Lead, and Manage Your Business.
Dynamic Communication focuses on effective strategy for engaging and effective communication within the workplace, but in her webinar, Schiefelbein also discusses the ways in which we can bring these communications strategies to the digital space.
Generating “Thought Momentum” with Key Communication Strategies
2020 brought with it the migration from the boardroom to the Zoom call, and in Dynamic Communication, Jill Schiefelbein provides 27 actionable strategies to engender forward momentum in person and across platforms. By carefully considering our language and non-verbal cues, we can ensure that our communication partners stay poised to move forward with us in the ways that allow for successful business growth.
Featuring contributions from top entrepreneurs like Grant Cardone, John Lee Dumas, Jay Baer, Kat Loterzo, Robin Koval, and Ekaterina Walter, the book reminds us that how we deliver our message can be just as impactful as the message itself, whether we’re trying to inspire large teams, or make a strong impression in an interview or first meeting.
This article will distill some of Schiefelbein’s key advice, helping you to improve communication in ways that will be immediately implementable, from your next digital one-on-one, to future keynote presentations and leadership addresses.
Who is Jill Schiefelbein?
University faculty-turned-entrepreneur, Jill Schiefelbein is an award-winning business owner, author, and “recovering academic.” She taught business communication at Arizona State University for 11 years, analyzed terrorist documents to provide counter-terrorism messaging strategies to the military, and was a pioneer in the online education space, creating an office serving +60,000 students and added $1M in revenue in its first year. Schiefelbein now focuses on providing custom communication strategies for her clients and the public through consulting, university textbooks, podcasts, a syndicated YouTube channel, and in the pages of publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNET, and Time.
5 Key Takeaways from ‘Dynamic Communication’
1. Using ‘You’ to Generate Momentum
When we start speaking to someone, we don’t know what mindset they’re in. They could be tired or distracted, and not ready to move forward with us in the way we’d like them to. But there’s one word we can use to immediately engage them, and it’s a great sentence-starter: ‘you’.
By starting a sentence with ‘I’–as in ‘I’ need this, or ‘I’ want that–we’re centering ourself and may be creating the impression that our conversation partner doesn’t need to engage in order to benefit from our communication. ‘You’, on the other hand, lets them know that we’re focused on them, and gets their mind ready to respond to our message.
2. R.E.R.: Recognize, Empathize, and Respond to the Elephant in the Room
This easy mnemonic is a great tool for all sorts of communication, but it can be especially helpful when we’re trying to decide whether something uncomfortable needs to be addressed. Imagine having an interview with a panel that happens to include someone you know from a previous company, or delivering a presentation directly after your team finds out there will be changes to their dental plan. The temptation may be to brush over the elephant in the room, but Schiefelbein argues that it’s almost always better to address it.
Using R.E.R. as a guide, that might mean acknowledging that there are changes coming (Recognizing), declaring that you, too, are looking forward to getting more answers (Empathizing), but asking that your team table their concerns and focus on the task at hand until the appropriate time to circle back (Responding). This proactive technique can reduce distraction and discomfort, and once again set the stage for forward mental momentum.
3. Let’s Get Digital: Managing ‘Mismatched Identities’
The increasing shift to digital communication brings with it a host of challenges. One challenge you might have experienced, but not recognized the importance of, relates to mismatched identity. This can occur when, after a phone conversation or email exchange, we log into a video call to find that the person we are communicating with does not match our preconceived expectations.
To avoid a jarring first impression, keep in mind that many people will be searching for us on the web before we speak, so ensuring that our appearances match our online photos as much as possible can be a great way to get off to a strong initial communication.
4. Set the Stage
Managing our own appearance isn’t the only important thing to consider for an online meeting. We also want to ensure that the ‘stage’ around us (or behind us) isn’t causing a distraction. Clutter is to be avoided, and we should ensure that the environment we are spotlighting is a professional one. If a digital background is being employed, try to find a uniform surface that will prevent visual glitches.
We also want to position our webcam so that we’re easily visible, but not cramped by our frame. Visual cues like nodding, smiling, giving a thumbs up, or leaning in towards our camera can all indicate attention and affirmation, even in the digital space.
5. Avoid Overload: Knowledge Vs. Info
Lastly, before we start a communication, it’s important to think about what we want our communication partners to take away going forward, not just what they need to hear in the moment. Using slides can be helpful for visual learners, but keep in mind that each change in slide will take attention away from you as a speaker, and if your slides are overloaded with information, they might compete with your spoken message rather than compliment it.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking we can’t get our audience involved in a digital context. Get tactile learners’ fingers typing by asking questions, and reading out responses from the chat. By streamlining your message and employing multiple engagement strategies, you can ensure that takeaways will be compounded and well-focused.
Strong Communication Can Keep Us Moving Forward
The ways in which we communicate have changed substantially over the past year, but the strategies in Jill Schiefelbein’s Dynamic Communication continue to be powerful tools in ensuring that our message lands across platforms. Some of these strategies are intuitive, but others require practice and careful consideration.
By taking the time to think about what mental state you might find your communications partners in, and how to get them out of neutral into a mindset that’s ready for momentum, you can ensure that your words will land from the moment you start typing, speaking, or visuals. “If we want to create a response, we need to make sure our information is moving people forward,” says Schiefelbein. Generating a strong response means you have to respond as well: to your situation, to our conversation partners, and to a business environment that’s evolving faster than ever before.
Are you ready to bring your message into the future? Learn more with Ivy Exec’s Career Advice.